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A Closer Look at The UK’s Four-Day Work Week

The five-day work week is common in most parts of the world. However, employees have long dreamed about what it’d be like to work less, but never gave it a second thought. That is until the 4-day work week experiment had people reconsidering the norm.

As the name implies, a four-day work week involves working over a four-day period and having a three-day weekend. However, it is not to be confused with a compressed work schedule. A four-day work week should instead be seen as reduced hours with the same salaries and benefits.

In the recent four-day work week experiment in the UK, employees are expected to work for 32 hours per week rather than 40. While this might sound like an extreme approach to some, the number of working hours has been on the decline since the late 19th century.

Thanks to modern technology, we are able to work at a much faster rate. Desk jobs are also increasingly common, replacing the need for the five-day weeks that are ideal for factory work. Changes such as these have people questioning whether longer hours are conducive to productivity.

4-Day Work Week Pros and Cons

Countries like Iceland and New Zealand have witnessed first-hand the success of a four-day work week, along with companies like Microsoft Japan. But is a four-day work week suitable for your business? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help you decide.

Benefits of a Shorter Work Week

The main argument for a four-day workweek is to improve employees’ quality of life. Working fewer hours and having a longer break over the weekend gives them more time to use how they like, including things such as:

  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Maintaining and managing their home
  • Focusing on their health
  • Learning new things beyond their work environment
  • Engaging in hobbies

With that said, employers need to be able to benefit from fewer working hours as well. Fortunately, there are many benefits of a four-day work week for businesses, including:

  • Lower costs – Operating costs would drop significantly, thanks to offices being closed for an extra day, along with additional expenses like coffee and snacks.
  • Happier workforce – With more time to spend how they like, employees will be happier overall. Plus, a satisfied employee is more likely to stay with a company, thereby increasing loyalty.
  • Higher productivity levels – Employees who are happier to be at work are more likely to be productive when they’re there.
  • Attract and retain employees – These days, flexible working arrangements are a perk that can make a company more attractive to employees.
  • Better health – Mental health charity Mind found that one out of six people in England experiences anxiety, depression and other common health problems in any given week. More time off will give employees more time to recharge, naturally improving employees’ mental health and well-being.

Cons of a Shorter Work Week

While there are undoubtedly numerous benefits, there are some disadvantages of a four-day work week worth mentioning as well. A shorter work week simply doesn’t suit every business model, and it’s only possible for companies that are able to restructure their business to accommodate the new schedule.

Poor customer satisfaction can also result from a shorter work week, unless technology can replace office-based employee support. It’s also worth noting that employees working a four-day week might be expected to work 40-hour weeks over a four-day period instead.

If a four-day work week means longer shifts, then employees’ stress levels, productivity and well-being are likely to suffer. Likewise, less time in the office should not mean more time using emails and server access.

For a shorter work week to have desired results, standard 7-hour work days and disconnecting from work outside working hours are essential.

Long-Term Four-day Work Week Trial Results

Of the 61 companies involved in the six-month trial in 2022, it was reported that at least 54 (89%) stated that the four-day work week policy was still in place a year later, and 31 (51%) stated that they have permanently switched to a four-day work week.

What was more surprising was that 100% of the managers and CEOs who were consulted said that the shortened work week had a positive impact on their organisation. 82% of the surveyed companies also reported positive impacts on the staff including reducing staff turnover.

According to the 4-day Week Global website, during the trial, participating companies showed positive impacts in both productivity and performance with a 38% average increase in revenue when compared to the previous year.

Is a Four-Day Work Week Right for Your Business?

Whether or not a four-day work week is suitable for an employer boils down to the workplace. A shorter work week certainly has potential benefits like attracting and retaining employees, improving overall well-being and increasing productivity.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone – or rather, every company. If your business relies on 24/7 customer support or pays employees hourly, this kind of arrangement might not work.

For companies that can offer employees flexible working arrangements, however, the four-day work week could be a benefit that’s a win-win for all.

Looking for Employee Benefit Solutions? Get in Touch with Pacific Prime UK

Whether you’re looking to design employee benefit plans or secure group health insurance in the UK, Pacific Prime UK is here to help.

As a leading health insurance broker and employee benefits specialist with over 20 years of experience helping corporations find effective solutions across the globe, our insurance experts can help you optimise your company’s group health insurance based on your unique needs.

By using our unique broker approach, we are able to offer tailored packages that meet your needs and budget. Get in touch with our corporate team to learn more today!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Vista is a content creator at Pacific Prime. With over 8 years of writing experience for online platforms on various topics such as luxury lifestyle and digital entertainment. He enjoys diving into complex and otherwise confusing topics, and creating easy-to-understand content for the readers to help them navigate through the topic - something that’s perfectly aligned with Pacific Prime’s motto of ‘simplifying insurance’.

Born and raised in the cultural melting pot that is Hong Kong, and having studied at an international school, Vista has developed a multicultural perspective that he uses in his writing and strives to connect to people of different backgrounds.

In his free time, Vista enjoys immersing himself in different worlds, from video games to light novels and movies. His hobbies help him expand his writing style by putting himself in the point-of-view of different people and characters.
Vista Nip