Is a 4-day week the future?

An increase in hybrid roles has left many professionals questioning what more can be done to improve work-life balance.

This month in the UK, we have had 2 bank holiday Mondays – everyone’s favourite 3-day weekend. But what hasn’t been noted is the 4-day working week and its effect on team productivity.

Some businesses are now beginning to introduce this style of working permanently to allow their employees more balance between their personal and professional lives.

Though it can come in many forms, the concept of a 4-day week is simple. Employees work 4 days, but receive the same compensation as working the traditional 5 days. Some businesses claim a 4-day week by offering employees the option to work 40 hours over 4 days (10 hours per day), however, this would be classed as compressed hours, a different type of flexible working.

Though this arrangement might not work for every business for various reasons, there are benefits to be found.

Employee benefits

Autonomy ran a study with 61 companies, with over 2900 workers in the UK trailing a 4-day work week for 6 months. The following effects were had on employees:

  • 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout.
  • Reported levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased.
  • Both mental and physical health improved.
  • Respondents found it easier to balance their work with both family and social commitments.
  • More satisfaction with household finances and relationships.
  • More satisfaction with how their time was being managed. 

Company findings

This same study found the following effects on the involved companies:

  • Revenue stayed broadly the same, rising by 1.4% on average.
  • A 65% reduction in the number of sick days taken.
  • A dramatic improvement in employee retention with a 57% decline in the likelihood an employee would quit.

How can my business implement a 4-day week?

Ultimately, a 4-day week might not work for every business. But for the ones who may be considering it, there is more than one way to go forward with trailing it. Here are just 3 examples of the many ways it can be implemented.

1. Complete closure on a set day

The most obvious answer, this is where the company shuts down operations for one additional day per week. Traditionally, this would be a Monday or Friday to extend the weekend, but could be any day to suit the needs of the business.

This is best for a business where collaboration across the team is more important than having full-time, 5-day coverage.

2. Staggered or alternating days off

This is helpful for businesses where it is important that someone is always available, particularly between traditional office hours. Staff will be split into two (or more!) groups, where some take off one day and others another day.

A great way to do this is to pair up individuals with similar skills and have them on alternating schedules.

3. Conditional to performance

Now, this can be a little more complicated and needs properly monitoring to ensure it is ran fairly. Staff entitlement to a 4-day working week would be based off their ongoing performance and completion of tasks. This allows seniors to opt to temporarily decide to suspend the benefit if they are failing to meet targets.

Does your business already have a 4-day working week? Let us know about your experience!

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