A long bank holiday weekend is a wonderful thing to experience (as we have just done), but what if it became the norm for the working week? This innovative four-day work week approach has shown to be successful in other nations, with demonstrated benefits for employers. The four-day working week is presently being tested in a variety of businesses across the United Kingdom.
How will it work?
There are various ways to have a four-day work week. Workplaces in some cases work ten-hour days instead of the typical eight-hour days from Monday to Friday. Employees still work forty-hour weeks, but they do it over a shorter period of time.
Another way to cut the week down to four days is to reduce the amount of hours that employees work. While the income remains the same, the weekly hours are reduced from forty to thirty-two. This isn’t as significant a cut as you may assume. Manufacturing workers in the United States worked an average of 100 hours a week in the 1890s. This would have taken at least six days. Manufacturing workers, on the other hand, were working forty-hour weeks by the mid-twentieth century. The sixty-hour reduction was significant, but important, as it enhanced morale and work-life balance.
Thanks to technological improvements, businesses can minimise their weekly working hours. Chatbots and AI reduce the amount of work that employees must accomplish, allowing them to work more flexible hours and from home. If the covid pandemic taught us anything, it’s that most businesses can run smoothly even if everyone works from home.
Several countries have conducted trials and discovered that working four days a week has several advantages. The four-day week has been implemented successfully in Iceland, New Zealand, and Spain.
The shorter workweek has been shown to reduce stress levels and prevent burnout among employees. Employees also feel more energised after a long weekend, which means they take fewer sick days. Workers will feel more rested and have more time to recover as a result of the extra day. Employees who are overworked have been shown to be less productive. Japan is known for its excessive work ethic, ranking 20th out of 35 countries in terms of output. Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands, among the world’s most productive countries, work an average of 27 hours per week.
The four-day workweek would contribute to a more balanced workplace. Employees would be able to spend more time with their families and handle childcare and work commitments more effectively.
Pollution levels could be reduced if workers only commute four days a week. Employees’ carbon footprint will be decreased not only as a result of less travel, but also because they will have more time to make environmentally friendly decisions such as cooking with fresh ingredients.
A four-day week is easier to attract personnel, according to 63 percent of businesses, making it easier to address unemployment issues. Furthermore, 78 percent of employees who work four days a week say they are happier and less worried.
The drawbacks of the four-day working week
Although a four-day workweek may increase production and morale, it is not a cost-effective method to run a company. To function properly, the shorter week requires the right support and workplace culture.
Because clients can’t always speak directly to an employee when a problem develops, customer satisfaction may suffer. If the weekend is extended by one day, there may be a longer delay before responses are given to customers, which could cause frustration.
Some scientists have questioned studies on the four-day week, believing they have fallen victim to the Hawthorne effect. The Hawthorne effect refers to the idea that people work harder when they are taking part in an experiment. This suggests that the four-day workweek may not provide as many benefits as previously anticipated.
The four-day week wouldn’t be possible for every industry. Sectors including teaching and retail would struggle to organise and fund reducing employees working time.
As this is a fairly new concept, more disadvantages and problems may come up as it’s adopted.
The benefits of having a reduced week do appear to outweigh the drawbacks. In a survey, 64% of 2000 people said that they would support a 4-day week with only 13% of people being opposed to the idea. In the UK, having a half-day on Friday is already becoming more common, so it might not be long before we get the whole of Friday off!
As this is a relatively new concept, further drawbacks and issues may arise as it is implemented.
The advantages of a shorter week appear to exceed the disadvantages. In a poll, 64 percent of 2000 people said they would accept a four-day workweek, with only 13 percent saying they would reject it. Having a half-day on Friday is growing more prevalent in the UK, so it won’t be long before we get the entire day off!
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