During the pre-pandemic days having a hybrid and remote work setup was almost impossible. Now, it has become a value proposition to attract talent.
As both workers and employers reconsider the value of workplace flexibility, it won’t long till we see businesses adopt the four-day workweek approach. Furthermore, as AI becomes more integrated into various industries, it is expected to have a significant impact on how we work, thus four-day workweek could become a feasible option in the future.
What is a four-day workweek approach?
The idea of a four-day workweek involves working four days a week while still getting the same salary, benefits, and workload. Companies that adopt this approach would schedule fewer or no meetings on the fourth day and place more emphasis on individual work.
Some countries are already piloting the four-day workweek, particularly in the UK. 4 Day Week Global, a non-profit organization, and Think Tank Autonomy research organization ran a six-month pilot program for the four-day workweek in the UK which included nearly 3,000 workers from 61 companies.
The trial employs a 100-80-100 model, whereby employees are compensated 100% of their wages for working 80% of their typical hours, provided they produce 100% of their regular output.
Most companies that participated in the trial opted to maintain reduced working hours, though not all of them have adopted the new arrangement.
Why did it work?
As per the study, 71% of employees reported decreased levels of burnout, and they also saw an improvement in their physical health and overall well-being. Thus, it was concluded that the four-day workweek contributes to increased job satisfaction among workers.
Employees would use their additional day off to spend more time with their family or deal with personal matters. This fosters workplace equality, as women who have childcare or motherly duties can more effectively balance them with their job responsibilities.
Not only does it benefit the workers, but there are also reports that it has an advantage for organizations.
Having a four-day workweek in companies has retained and attracted talent. They have become determined to join the company once they have become aware of the four-day workweek proposition.
Due to the emphasis on work-life balance, employees have increased their productivity. Consequently, long meetings, particularly on Fridays, have been minimized. Workers have adopted more effective methods such as sending emails instead of having long meetings, thereby reducing unnecessary work. Workers can now focus on their independent tasks which resulted in reaching their KPIs.
However, as with any study, the approach is not 100% successful. During the trial, some companies did not have a good experience with a four-day workweek.
Why did it not work?
Many have misunderstood the concept as some people have equated a four-day workweek with compressed hours. Therefore, some companies expected their employees to work the same 35-hour week but over four days which led to reduced productivity and negatively impacted their engagement, work-life balance, and overall satisfaction.
Additionally, implementing the four-day workweek compromised customer satisfaction as there are instances where customers had a hard time reaching them on Fridays.
Companies with direct customer interaction face challenges with the approach due to the need for customer staffing. This lead to increased cost which makes it difficult for them to adopt the model.
Apart from staffing challenges, certain employers have pointed out the obstacles in adopting a 4-day work week due to the nature of their industry, particularly for businesses with fixed working hours that cannot be done remotely. In such cases, providing employees with an additional day off would necessitate others covering their shifts, resulting in higher workloads and pressure. This situation also tends to prioritize daily tasks over longer-term projects and strategic work, which is ineffective for their organization.
Like any new changes, certain challenges and drawbacks are bound to arise. Before implementing the four-day workweek, companies should consider if they have adequate resources, support, technology, and a favorable workplace culture.
It is evident that the four-day workweek can be a great way to improve work-life balance and increase productivity, but it may not be a good fit for every company or employee. Careful planning and consideration of the potential advantages and disadvantages are necessary to determine whether a four-day workweek is a viable option.