Addressing the 4-Day Workweek
The 4-day workweek might seem like a far-fetched dream to some. To receive the same pay for less hours. Where every weekend feels like a long weekend. However, many argue in its favour, holding the position that companies can maintain profits and productivity with only four days. In this article we are going to start by covering the history of the workweek. Next, we will go over the pros and cons of a 4-day schedule. Finishing the discussion by talking about practical real-life experiments and their outcomes. Hopefully, covering these areas will give you some personal insight into whether the 4-day workweek is the right choice.
The history of the workweek
History repeats itself. If you find the idea of cutting one day out of the workweek farfetched, you’re not alone. If you think that productivity will fall, and laziness will rise, you’re not alone. The arguments against the 5-day workweek follow a similar pattern. Prior to the early 1900s, a 6-day workweek was the common schedule with only one day allocated for rest.
Dropping the workweek by another day was the result of early 1900s union advocacy in combination with the industrial revolution. Now, the idea of a six-day workweek is a gruelling concept. If we introduce the 4-day workweek now, down the line a 5-day workweek may be seen as exhausting as well. The luxury of the 4-day workweek will be seen as commonplace. We can interpret this as an increase in laziness. However, would the workers of a 6-day workweek not look at us the same way? And are we not better off for the workweek we have?
According to Clockify, from the 1950s the need for weekly hours has significantly dropped. They found that the amount of hours required for a given level of output today, is less than half what it was in the 1950s. Surely then, we could afford to drop another day off our works schedules. Leaving technology and automated processes to pick up the slack.
The pros of a 4-day workweek
Happier employees: It’s obvious to start by saying that the 4-day workweek is going to bring around happier, healthier employees. A 3-day weekend allows employees more free time and creates a stronger work-life balance. This is especially relevant for those with families, who may wish to take on a stronger parental responsibility. This happiness can then lead to higher employee satisfaction, retention, and better company culture.
Increased productivity: A pro which may not be your first thought is an increase in productivity. Yet, an in-depth study by Stanford university revealed a clear correlation between the two factors. Showing that overworked employees are less productive, providing support for the 4-day workweek.
Equal opportunities: Dropping the workweek by an extra day empowers mothers to join the workforce. Research on the Gender Pay Gap done by the Government Equalities Office showed that childcare was a major factor. Roughly two million British people are not in employment due to childcare, 89% of these people are women. As a reduced workweek allows for better work-life balance, it provides the opportunity for more mothers to enter the workforce.
Reduced costs: Closing the office for an extra day will drive down your companies running costs. Saving money on electricity, water, rent, and the lot.
The disadvantages of a 4-day workweek
It’s not suited for every business: Sometimes you need an employee in every day. Depending on the workload undertaken by the average employee, a 4-day workweek may not seem viable. Deadlines may not be as flexible, and employees may not be able to reach them working a shorter week.
It impacts customer satisfaction: Customers may become annoyed that they cannot access your services on a certain day. Or that there is no one there to pick up the phones. If you consistently communicate with clients, new or old, a 4-day workweek may not be the right approach.
Thankfully for us, some companies have already taken the plunge into the 4-day workweek. Testing it out on their own, to be watched and observed.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand company focusing on estate planning ran a test on the 4-day workweek. What they found was maintained productivity level in employees. With additional improvements in job satisfaction, teamwork, work/life balance and company loyalty. Adding to this, there was a reported decrease in stress from 45% to 38%.
We can also turn to national data to inform the relationship between working hours and productivity. For example, Japan is notorious for overworked employees. With reports of workers falling asleep in public and on trains after pulling long hours. With these high weekly hours, the country ranked 20th out of 35 countries for productivity. On the other hand, some of the worlds more productive countries like Norway and Denmark worked significantly less. With weekly estimates falling in around 27 hours a week. This is on-par with what a potential 4-day workweek could look like.
Should you introduce the 4-day workweek?
In order to know whether a 4-day workweek is the right fit, you have to do more than look at other companies. It requires an in-depth understanding of your own company, and your employees. A CiVS employee survey can help you enrich this understanding. A survey allows you to obtain honest, anonymous responses from employees, and produce rich insights.
Spark your interest? contact the CiVS team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (08) 6314 0580.