Pros and Cons of a Four-Day Work Week

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic marked a seismic shift in how many of us conducted our work day-to-day. A vast amount of businesses had their employees working remotely with hybrid shift patterns. Initially, this appeared to be a fleeting adaptation. That, at some point in the near future, conventions would revert and continue on as they had done prior.

It wasn’t generally anticipated that working life was undergoing a fundamental change. But now, it seems that the standard five-day workweek is increasingly being regarded as an antiquated norm. Recently, society has begun to show a concentrated interest in the alternative, a four-day working week with a 3-day weekend. The circulating buzz poses the question: “Is it a good idea?”. We have teamed up with HR group advo to illustrate the pros and cons of this modern approach.

Pros Of The Four-Day Work Week

The 4 day workweek can operate in one of two ways. Either, by having employees compress their full-time hours into a period of four days. Or, by lessening employees’ hours so that they constitute four days of working time. Here are the potential benefits:

  • Improved Talent Recruitment And Retention

Talent recruitment and retention grows ever more competitive by the day. Businesses and companies are finding it harder to garner and hold onto a skilled workforce. This is because workers are pushing the boundaries concerning the demands that they can make of employers. If shifts were to be made more lenient then it would, evidently, work to increase the amount of staff being taken on.

Likewise, employee turnover rate would see a decrease since they would be adequately satisfied so as to not look for another job. Research has shown that “63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4 day week”.

  • Improved Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is another hot topic in the world of HR. It’s easy to see that if an employee isn’t overworked then they will, subsequently, feel more motivated and happy when in the workplace. High levels of stress are a real concern for workers, and if your workforce is conscious of your efforts to reduce the impact of it, they will feel an impetus to nurture commitment.

Alongside this, the amount of days taken off will decrease, given that employees will have an overall better physical and mental wellbeing. The aforementioned source also maintained that “78% of employees with 4 day weeks are happier and less stressed”.

  • Improved Productivity

An initial impression of the 4 day workweek could lead one to believe that a reduction in productivity is the natural consequence of less hours/days worked. This isn’t necessarily true, however. If an employee has a work-life balance which they are pleased with, then this necessitates them to show a greater deal of attentiveness during those compacted hours that they are at work for. Instead of employees’ shifts being fatiguing, they will rather incentivise workers to fulfil more in less time.

  • Reduced Costs

With the cost of living on the rise, a reduction in expenses, regardless of the matter, is something that everyone can appreciate. A four-day working week would mean a decrease in overhead expenditures for all businesses because offices would, markedly, not be open for as long as they typically are. And further still, this would cut back on commuting costs.

  • Reduced Environmental Impact

On the back of the last point, if only one day were eliminated where a host of employees had to commute, then this would work to significantly reduce the scale of a business’s carbon footprint. As the population grows increasingly conscious of, and concerned about, our environmental situation, any active strategy to counteract it may determine an organisation’s longevity.

Cons Of The Four-Day Working Week

The case for the 4 day workweek is a singularly convincing one, but is it feasible? There are always disadvantages to measure against the advantages, and here there is no exception. The possible pitfalls are as outlined:

  • Business Model Compatibility

The fact of the matter is, that the 4 day workweek isn’t suited to every industry, and forcing it to be so isn’t realistic. For instance, if hospitals were to reduce their hours it would, more than likely, result in a national crisis. In a similar vein, restaurants wouldn’t survive if they were to close up shop on a weekend. Careful distinctions must be made when considering the policy.

  • Overtime And Coverage Increases

Productivity might improve under such a system, yet it remains that workforce presence would be diluted. Followingly, this could mean that workload completion simply plateaus at the same level which it was at before, or even drop due to employees slipping into complacency. If this were the outcome, then it would either have no effect at all, or propagate shift coverage and overtime, subsequently leading to losses in revenue.

  • Reduced Customer Satisfaction

Fundamentally, companies and businesses provide a service. Accordingly, customers are the very centre of attention. If organisations limit their availability then this will have a negative impact on their satisfaction rating, and thereby, their income. If accessibility isn’t a constant, then this creates annoyance. This is especially so for government offices, where civilians’ inability to carry out essential correspondence isn’t acceptable or practical.

What Studies Show

So, is the four-day working week a good idea? As you’ve probably already discerned, it depends entirely on compatibility. But if it is suitable, then we can only look at what evidence we have. Recent research has concluded titles such as “Four-day working week backed by 86% of trial companies” and “Firms in four-day week trial will make it permanent”. If the trend continues in this way, we could be looking at the future of working life. One thing’s for certain, deliberations aren’t stopping any time soon.