Who doesn’t dream of having extended weekends that they can use to spend time with friends and family? The 5-day work week has long been considered the norm, but in recent years many people have started to test out a much shorter working week.
Although this is not a widespread policy by any means, it is constantly a topic of conversation for many people who work a traditional 9–5 job. But, as more of us are working flexibly, the logistics of organising a 4-day work week becomes a little more nuanced. In this article, we’ll be telling you all about what the 4-day work week policy is and how it can be implemented in your company
What is the 4-day work week policy?
4-day work week is exactly what it sounds like, where someone completes all of their work over a 4-day period so they can have a 3-day weekend. Unlike some work policies where employees are allowed to compress their hours into 4-days and involve having to start work earlier and later on the days when they are in, a 4-day work policy means that you have your hours reduced – and, most importantly, receiving the same amount of pay.
It may seem like a crazy idea, especially as we have all become so accustomed to the 5-day working week, but there are lots of companies and countries that are already trialling this new way of working. For example, in the UK, more than 3,300 workers at 70 companies have started a 4-day work week trial. Similarly in Japan, a growing number of companies have started to allow their employees to work 4-day weeks to provide more flexibility, freedom, and a better work-life balance.
Who supports a 4-day work week?
Like many topics, different stakeholders have quite different opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of a four-day work week. For employees it can be a great thing as it will allow them to have more free time, however, it can sometimes result in increased stress if managers don’t manage their workload accordingly.
Similarly, managers may feel like their team is not as productive when they are working reduced hours. They may also find it hard to coordinate working patterns and times when everyone has different days off during the week. However, employees may perform better as they may attach more to their company because of the reduced hours, therefore; good management for the four-day work week is crucial. As long as employees’ and managers’ needs are both met and work is still able to get completed on time, everyone can benefit from reduced working hours.
The benefits of a 4-day work week
Despite a few small issues, that can easily be fixed according to each organisation’s needs, there is a range of benefits that come with working a reduced working week.
How much of your week is spent not working, whether it’s because of taking longer breaks or just hitting the 4 pm slump.
Everyone goes through peaks and troughs of motivation throughout the week, but when you only have a smaller period of time to complete your work it can push you to get everything done much quicker.
In fact, in some studies that have looked at the performance of employees who are working a 4-day work week, they found that the more an employee had to work, the more unproductive they became.
When you’ve got a 3-day weekend to look forward to, it’s only natural that you’d be feeling more motivated to get all of your work done.
Working in a supportive work environment that cares about your work-life balance is an important thing for any employee and will result in you working much harder.
Lower overhead costs
The fewer people you have working in the office day, the less money you have to spend. You don’t need to rent bigger premises and you don’t have to worry about increasing energy bills.
These costs may not seem like a big deal straight away, but having this spare cash is always beneficial for any business.
Cutting down your office operating costs means you have more money to reinvest back into the business, fuel business growth, and sustain your employee’s earnings as they start to reduce their hours.
Better employee engagement
When the pressure is taken off your employees, they are less likely to feel stressed and take sick leave as they always have a long weekend to rest and recover.
It can also improve health and wellbeing among employees, so they feel more interested in the work they are doing and feel more connected with the business as a whole.
4-day work week success stories
As the 4-day work week grows in popularity, there has been a range of success stories of where the policy has been effectively integrated into different companies and countries.
The 4-day work week in Iceland
Between 2015 and 2019, workers in Iceland were paid the same amount of money for working shorter hours over a 4-day period.
The trial was considered an “overwhelming success” and either had no effect on productivity or improved it among participants.
Since then, 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same amount of pay or will have the right to switch.
Perpetual Guardian New Zealand
Brands like Unilever have been trailing the 4-day work week in New Zealand, but it’s been Perpetual Guardian, an estate planning company, that has enjoyed some of the biggest benefits.
After their 240 staff took part in the trial, 78% said they were able to better manage their work-life balance and productivity improved as a result.
Japan has been a trailblazer in terms of the 4-day work week and it was Microsoft that was able to make the policy work for their employees.
In trials, 2,300 employees were given five Fridays off in a row. During the trial, productivity increased by a massive 40% and workers were more efficient, happier, and less likely to take sick days.
How to manage a 4-day work week in a flexible office space
The 4-day work week is not a policy that is guaranteed to work for every company as every business's needs are completely different.
One way to make the 4-day working week a bit easier for your company and employees is by using flexible office space.
When you and your team work out of flexible office space you can have as much freedom as you like when it comes to how much space you need, how many desks you need to allocate, and how often you want members of your team to be working.
A flexible office and productivity workspace can be tailored to fit your needs and is perfect for companies that don’t expect to have employees working in the office every single day.
You can rent out desks as and when you need them, depending on what employees are going to be on each day. This helps to cut your rental costs, increase revenue, and combat the culture of employees feeling pressured into working longer hours.
As 4-day work week policies continue to come into place, the way we see and use our office space is going to be very different – and flexible working space holds the solution to many of the logistical issues that come with this new way of working.