What you should know about a four-day work week
Employees who have dreamed of working less without facing a pay cut may finally know what it’s like as the UK tests out a 4-day work week. From June 2022, more than 30 UK companies will start the four-day work week pilot in an attempt to show that hours logged doesn’t matter as much as results. The US and Ireland are also setting up similar programs while countries like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are said to join later on. In this Pacific Prime UK article, we discuss what you should know about a four-day work week.
A closer look at a four-day work week
The five-day work week is common in most parts of the world. As such, long weekends due to bank holidays are celebrated by employees globally. Employees daydream about what it’d be like to work less, but never give it a second thought. That is until the news of the 4-day work week experiment has people considering the norm.
Employers wonder how a shorter work week would impact business and employees wonder how productive they would be with more time off. 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. As for the four-day work week experiment in the UK, employees will be 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. Office 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 actually conducive to productivity.
Pros and cons of a four-day work week
Countries like Iceland and New Zealand have witnessed the success of a four-day work week first-hand, 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 for things such as:
- Spending time with loved ones
- Maintaining and managing the home
- Focusing on health
- 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 shorter 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 happy 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 in 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 wellbeing.
Cons of a shorter work week
While there are undoubtedly numerous benefits to a four-day work week, there are some disadvantages worth mentioning as well. To begin with, a shorter work week simply doesn’t suit every business model. It’s only possible for companies that are able to restructure their business to accommodate a new way of working.
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 wellbeing 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 is essential.
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 wellbeing and increasing productivity. But 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 company health insurance in the UK, Pacific Prime UK is here to help. As a leading health insurance broker and employee benefits specialist, we have more than 20 years of experience helping corporates find effective solutions across the globe.
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