Results From Countries That Tried Out The Four-Day Workweek Model
Countries including the UK, Iceland, New Zealand, France, and Spain have conducted trials to check how beneficial a four-day working week would be for employees. From 2015 to 2019, Iceland’s experiment was tremendously successful, and now the majority of professionals are offered the opportunity for a reduced schedule. In the UK, companies that participated in similar experiments offered a 32-hour week instead of a 40-hour week without a decrease in pay. The results were so positive that 92% of the organizations chose to maintain the four-day working week option. Countries like Japan and the United States are also looking into more flexible schedules, but there is still a lot of ground to be covered. Organizations in most business sectors can give the four-day workweek model a try and see whether it suits them, their team members, and their customers.
The Pros Of Working Four Days A Week
Reduced Facility Costs
During the pandemic, many employers noticed that their office expenses dropped significantly while everyone was working from home. Utility bills decreased, like electricity, gas, heating, and other amenity costs. Naturally, working one day less every week will help businesses lower their costs, too. At the same time, employees save money on transportation, lunch, and coffee by staying at home. As a result, organizations reduce their carbon footprint, benefiting the environment. There are fewer emissions when people don’t use public transportation or cars to get to their jobs. Also, companies use less energy in their office spaces.
Many companies fear that a shorter workweek means decreased productivity. However, it has been proven time and again that those who work four days a week are often more motivated, dedicated, and engaged in their daily activities. The levels of productivity remained the same and, in some trials, even increased. When workers get the relaxation time they need, they go back to their responsibilities more energized and can focus better. Moreover, the four-day working model has shown an improvement in mental health, lowering the possibility of burnout.
Better Work-Life Balance
Having two days off is not always enough to tend to responsibilities and enjoy hobbies. Employees usually have to juggle everything during the week and hardly have time left for themselves. Having an additional day off gives them more time to devote to personal matters. Consequently, their morale and happiness levels improve as their work-life balance stabilizes. Monday morning at work wouldn’t be such a struggle if everyone had a chance to recharge their batteries properly and were ready to produce to the best of their abilities.
Fewer Sick Days
Many employees endure high stress levels at their workplace and don’t get sufficient time to relax. As a result, they may suffer from mental health issues and illnesses and have to ask for days off more frequently. Working only four days a week and having an extra day to themselves allows them to focus on their well-being and participate in activities that can combat anxiety and tension.
Improved Recruitment And Lower Attrition
In 2022, 92% of employees said they would welcome a four-day working week. This means that companies that offer this choice are more appealing to talent. Businesses may find it easier to attract professionals when they offer flexibility. Additionally, they retain their top performers in the long run, decreasing attrition rates. Those who feel their well-being is appreciated will most probably stay loyal to their employer and won’t seek out other opportunities.
The Cons Of A Four-Day Work Model
Longer Working Hours
Individuals who choose to work four days a week may still be expected to complete their weekly 40 hours within the four working days. This means ten-hour days, and for many, it can prove to be exhausting. While some trials have shown that stress levels decrease when working four days a week, others have noted the opposite. That’s because staffers are still required to fulfill their job roles and have very little time to devote to their personal needs on their working days. Employers may even be required to pay staff members overtime since not all states and countries allow ten-hour shifts.
Extra Costs For Many Businesses
Employers have to pay extra in states and countries where extra hours mean overtime. To avoid that and adopt a 32-hour workweek, they might need to employ more team members. This is particularly problematic for industries that need to have someone available to communicate and accommodate customers day or night. If some shifts stay uncovered, a business’s competitiveness may take a hit since customers could contact their competitors instead.
Speaking of customer experience, in most cases, this model involves having Fridays off. As a result, clients or customers may not get the service they expect during the traditional business week. Not to mention emergency meetings may be difficult to schedule outside of work hours. That’s why companies that want to implement the four-day workweek model should adopt a different approach. Instead of giving Friday off to all employees, they might consider spreading out days off during the week. This way, no day will be short-staffed.
Not Every Employee May Like It
Many employees feel that working fewer hours will have negative consequences on their growth and make them look unprofessional. While the majority of them would love more flexibility, the fear of suffering career setbacks might keep them from choosing to work four days a week. For this model to work, everyone needs to be on the same page and have the same level of devotion. People admit that they would feel stressed about handing over their tasks to a colleague while they’re off work. They are also afraid that their colleagues may perceive them as lazy.
The pandemic has made it clear that individuals love flexibility and being able to tackle both professional and personal matters at the same time. Working four days a week is an appealing solution to burnout and excessive stress, and some companies may be able to implement it successfully. However, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons involved. In fact, companies may want to do a trial during a quiet period and evaluate the results.