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Are Four Day Work Weeks REALLY The Answer To Increased Productivity?

7 December 2022

Four day work week trials have been one of the highlights of 2022 with many countries taking place including Spain, Iceland, UK, New Zealand, Japan and many more. Early findings have been eye opening and a lot of people, particularly younger generations are starting to question the 5 day work week old fashioned norm and becoming warmer and more open to 4 day work weeks.

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Young workers today have been labelled as entitled and lazy. Instead, could they be among the first to recognise the proper role of work in life — and end up remaking work for everyone else? Millennials and Gen Z’s value work life balance more than previous generations with ‘free’ and ‘self-care’ time essential to recharge and be more productive.

Companies still rarely operate in this manner, and the obstacles are far greater than any one company's human resources policies. Some older employees may believe that new hires should suffer as they did, and employers benefit from having workers who are always available- this is a very old school of thought as the world has moved on and people there’s a huge emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.

Between 2015 and 2019, 4 day week trials were held all around the globe with Iceland hosting the largest.

In the United Kingdom, around 30 UK companies are currently taking part in a six-month trial of a four-day work week, in which employees' work hours are reduced to 32 hours per week. The impact of this change on productivity and well-being is then assessed. The reduced hours have no effect on wages, as researchers investigate whether workers can operate at 100% productivity for 80% of the time.

41 of the 73 companies in the trial responded to a survey conducted halfway through the scheme. After the trial period, approximately 86% of those polled said they would maintain the four-day week policy.

The majority of businesses said it was beneficial to their operations, and 95% said productivity had remained constant or improved during the shorter week.

During the trial, more than 3,300 employees will receive one paid day off per week.

Employees benefited from lower commuting and childcare costs, according to 4 Day Week, and a parent with two children would save £3,232.40 per year, or roughly £269.36 per month.

What are the key benefits of a 4 day workweek?

Productivity: Wouldn't a shorter working week make sense if employees can demonstrate the same level of productivity in fewer hours? Employees could be motivated and more productive if they worked four days a week. Preliminary results have shown that less burn out employees perform better.

Wellbeing: It is possible to achieve an optimal work-life balance by working four days a week. Mental health and physical wellbeing can be improved by more free time, which in turn can reduce presenteeism and absenteeism. Burnout can be reduced and job retention can be increased if employees are more rested and happier.

Engagement: When workers focus on tasks, performance, and productivity instead of clocking in hours, they may be more motivated to turn in their best work.

Positive Impact on Recruitment: As a result of the pandemic, flexibility has been embraced on a grand scale. Following the end of most restrictions, companies must decide whether to extend this flexibility beyond the pandemic, to compromise with employees, or to return to pre-pandemic working conditions. Providing flexible working arrangements can, however, broaden the talent pool available when recruiting.

Sustainability: By reducing commutes to and from work, employees can cut their carbon footprint and can make your workplace more cost-efficient and sustainable.

Work-life balance: A shorter workweek allows parents, particularly mothers, more time to balance childcare responsibilities. According to McKinsey's Women in the Workplace report, women experience burnout at a higher rate than men. In 2021, one in every three women considered changing careers or leaving the workforce. Furthermore, four out of ten women considered leaving their company or changing jobs — and high employee turnover rates in recent months suggest that many of them are acting on their plans. There are fewer females in senior management positions, according to evidence. Shorter workweeks allow more women to advance to senior positions while maintaining work-life balance.

Innovation: In light of Covid restrictions, companies had to implement overnight changes to facilitate home working during the pandemic.

Are we on the verge of a new world order in the workplace?

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