A four-day working week sounds like reality to many. Thanks to the rise of technology in recent years, more and more people are starting to believe that the traditional five-day working week is no longer necessary. Instead, they argue that work should be spread over four-days, giving workers more time to spend time with their friends and family.
While that may sound great – an extra day off before the weekend – how practical would it actually be? Would a four-day working week really be beneficial, or would it become more of a hindrance over the long run?
We’re here to answer both these questions and more, taking a look at the various advantages and disadvantages of implementing a four-day week at work. Let’s dive right in.
Pro – Reduced costs
We start with a fairly obvious benefit – less time in the office means fewer overhead costs which, in turn, will save businesses money. It’ll save employee money too since, by not needing to be in the office every day, they’ll be able to cut down on commuting, lunch, and coffee break costs.
Plus, employees will be doing the same amount of work over a shorter time period so, if anything, businesses will be spending less money to get the same output, while benefitting their employees at the same time – a win-win all around.
Con – Not always suitable
One of the major downsides with adopting a four-day workweek is that it’s not suitable for every type of business.
Since the five-day working week is now so conditioned into society, many businesses have no choice but to work five days a week to keep on top of clients and their workload. As such, four-day workweeks only really work in organizations that are able to re-adapt their working structure – not all businesses can give their staff a day off each week simply because they want to.
Pro – Increased productivity
It turns out that working less really is more.
As New Zealand’s financial services firm Perpetual Guardian proved last year, a four-day working week can seriously increase employee productivity, despite having less time available to get work done.
During their six-week trial, run in collaboration with the University of Auckland, the firm found that productivity levels increased by 20%, and that their staff had a better attitude towards completing their work. They also found that shorter workweek employees were better motivated to cut down on lost time, shortening meetings and telling colleagues to go away when they were being distracting.
Con – Longer hours = extra stress
Inevitably, employers aren’t going to be thrilled at the prospect of paying employees the same salary for spending less time at work. Therefore, fitting a 40-hour working week into just four days will require staff members to work longer hours each day.
While some people may not have a problem with that, working long hours every day could eventually lead to burnout and work fatigue. It could also leave employees struggling to keep up, causing them stress when trying to get everything done in time.
Pro – Happier employees
Going back to Perpetual Guardian’s research, the New Zealand-based firm also found that, following their trial, 78% of employees could more effectively balance their work and home life. This marked a 22% improvement from the beginning of the experiment, proving that a four-day workweek can lead to happier employees.
This increase is most likely due to the fact that, by having a three-day weekend, employees will have more free time to get stuff done and enjoy the things they love. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Pro – Less sick days
One of the biggest positives of implementing a four-day workweek is the impact it has on employee health. In fact, doing so is thought to be an effective solution to the rising issue of mental health in the workplace.
It can also substantially reduce the number of sick days that employees take each year. Take Pursuit Marketing for example – since implementing a four-day workweek back in 2016, the Glasgow-based marketing firm has seen sickness leave plummet to an all-time low and workplace productivity increase by 30%.
Plus, with the savings businesses can make in terms of overhead costs, staff members could be offered discounted gym membership to further improve their health, wellbeing and lifestyle.
Is a four-day working week feasible?
Four-day working weeks are a dream situation for a lot of people, and research only seems to highlight their benefits. From increased productivity levels and fewer sick days, to happier staff and reduced costs, it’s difficult to deny how advantageous they can be.
While yes, they may not be right for every type of business, and yes, they can increase employee workload, giving employees the flexibility to decide for themselves how and when they want to work could be an effective solution.
As Vouchercloud’s 2017 study proved, the average employee only spends 2 hours and 53 minutes each day working productively, so what’s the harm in implementing a method that could improve that? In today’s day and age, businesses need to be pro-active in recognizing what research says and acting on it accordingly. No employer wants to have unmotivated staff after all, intentionally taking days off sick to get some time to themselves – it’s just not a constructive work model to have.
Thanks to technology, the working world is now changing for the better. But with that, businesses need to avoid getting left behind, by realizing that the traditional five-day workweek no longer works in the same way it used to. It’s time for a refresh.