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The Four-Day Workweek: Is Less Really More?





The results from the world’s largest four-day workweek trial are in – could it be that the traditional Monday-to-Friday may soon become a thing of the past?

As reported by Anghel and Cohen (2023), the trial concluded that most UK companies who took part are not planning on returning to the five-day norm - a third of the participants stated they are prepared to implement the change permanently. Timsit (2023) confirmed that 91% of the participating companies claimed they would continue to implement the four-day workweek in their workplace once the study had ended.

Our survey revealed that 76% of business leaders are now in favour of the four-day workweek. Clearly, the desire for the Monday-to-Thursday schedule is on the rise, but is it right for your company?

The benefits

The most prevalent benefit of the four-day workweek is the subsequent increase in productivity and overall quality of the work produced. With an extra day of rest, your employees have more chance to relax, reset and maintain a desirable work-life balance. Ultimately, this can increase the levels of mental focus and motivation in the workplace – both of which will positively influence the productivity levels you see.

Especially in the current economic climate, the four-day workweek has been praised for its cost-saving benefits. As an employer opting for the Monday-to-Thursday, you may see a reduction in spending as the need for certain overheads, such as payroll and utilities, five days a week becomes redundant. By reducing your outflows, you can invest money back into the business to encourage innovation and further development.

The limitations

Despite the attractiveness of the four-day week, it does come with some limitations, such as the reduced ability to satisfy client needs. By extending your closing hours over the weekend, you make yourself unavailable to customers for an extra day. For example, if a client had an issue they needed to resolve on a Thursday afternoon, they may now need to wait until Monday until it is rectified. Of course, this could lead to customer dissatisfaction, potential complaints and decreased profits.

As a result of the four-day week, employees may feel the need to overwork from Monday to Thursday to meet their deadlines and feel accomplished going into the weekend. If your employees are working later on the days they are in, and it begins to negatively impact their work-life balance, you may see an increase in employee dissatisfaction and thus, a decrease in motivation.

“Employees may feel the need to overwork from Monday to Thursday to meet their deadlines”

What our business leaders believe...

As the Head of Executive Coaching at Actuate Global, Pasquale Mazzuca has been observing the impact of the four-day workweek on both the individual and the organisation. Pasquale explained that from an individual perspective, the four-day workweek can have a significant impact on employee well-being and work-life balance. In the organisational context, it can have significant benefits such as an improvement in employee retention, reduction in absenteeism and increased employee engagement. Pasquale summarised: “Implementing a four-day workweek requires careful planning and consideration. Workloads need to be adjusted accordingly and expectations need to be clearly communicated. From a coaching perspective, a four-day workweek can be significant, improving well-being, productivity, and organisational outcomes.”

“Workloads need to be adjusted accordingly and expectations need to be clearly communicated.”

Is less really more?

As mentioned, the proposed four-day workweek can have a significant positive impact on your business, employees and profit margins, but the potential limitations should not go ignored. What you must decide, as a business leader, is whether the benefits outweigh the limitations.

“What you must decide, as a business leader, is whether the benefits outweigh the limitations.”

It is important to remember that what works for one company may not necessarily work for another. The best way to find the answer is to trail it out for yourself - ask your staff what they think, test it and importantly, keep an open mind. You might find that less really does equal more.

References

Anghel, I. and Cohen, A. (2023) Fourday work week UK study finds majority of employers shifting, Bloomberg. Bloomberg. Available at: https:// www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-21/four-day-work-week -uk-study-finds-majority-of-employers-shifting?leadSource=uverify+wall.

Timsit, A. (2023) A four-day workweek pilot was so successful most firms say they won’t go back, The Washington Post. WP Company. Available at: https:// www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/02/21/four-day-workweek-results-uk/.

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