The concept of a four-day working week has been around for quite some time, but it has gained significant traction in recent years, particularly with COVID. While a standard 40-hour workweek from Monday to Friday has been the norm for decades, many companies are now exploring the idea of lowering that. Proponents of this idea argue that it has numerous advantages, ranging from increased productivity and employee satisfaction to reduced stress and improved work-life balance.
However, there are also potential downsides to this setup that must be taken into consideration.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.
There are plenty of benefits to a 4-day work week, including:
One of the most significant advantages of a four-day working week is that it can lead to increased productivity. Studies have shown that when employees work fewer hours, they tend to be more focused and productive during the hours they do work. This is because they have fewer distractions and can better manage their time. Employees are also more likely to return to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle their duties when they have an extra day off.
Improved work-life balance
Another benefit of a four-day working week is that it can help employees achieve a better work-life balance. Employees have more time to engage with their families, explore hobbies, or simply relax and recharge with an extra day off. This can reduce stress and lead to a more satisfying personal life, which can lead to increased work fulfilment and commitment.
A four-day working week can also lead to cost savings for both employees and employers. For example, employees may save money on transportation costs, with one less day a week to spend. Additionally, companies may save money on overhead costs, including utilities and snacks (if those are provided!)
Enhanced recruitment and retention
A four-day work week can also be an effective recruitment and retention strategy. Companies that offer this option have a better chance of attracting top talent who respect work-life balance and flexibility. Additionally, workers who are satisfied with their work schedule are more likely to stay with the company for a long time.
Does it all sound too good to be true? It might be. Here are some potential downsides to the idea.
One potential downside of a four-day working week is that it may decrease the availability of employees. For example, if a customer needs assistance on the day the office is closed, or a day when an agent that was previously helping them isn’t around to do so, they may have to wait an extra day to receive help.
A four-day working week can also lead to an increased workload for employees, especially if there are those that end up having to carry the weight for the unavailable team members. This can lead to increased stress levels and burnout if the workload becomes too heavy.
Difficulty of implementation
Implementing a four-day working week can be a challenging and complex process for employers. Companies must consider how to manage the workload, ensure that employees are still meeting their job requirements, and maintain customer satisfaction. They must develop new policies and procedures to accommodate the change in schedule, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Incompatible with certain jobs
Finally, a four-day working week may be incompatible with certain jobs, such as those that require a 24/7 or on-call presence. For example, hospitals and emergency services must be staffed around the clock, and a four-day working week may not be feasible in these situations. Additionally, some positions may require employees to work more than four days a week to meet job demands, which could create friction between employees.
In conclusion, there are both pros and cons to implementing a four-day working week instead of the usual five-day work week. While a shorter work week can lead to increased productivity, improved work-life balance, and cost savings, it can also lead to decrease availability, increased workload, and impact on operations.
Ultimately, the decision to implement a four-day working week should be based on a company's specific needs and goals, as well as the needs and preferences of its employees.