When you think of a four-day week, Beyoncé doesn’t necessarily spring to mind. But bear with us!
More than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies are currently trialling this working pattern, which will use a 100:80:100 model. Where employees receive 100% pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for maintaining 100% productivity.
From large financial firms to food & beverage companies. Digital marketing agencies to skincare brands – a diverse selection of industries is taking part in the six-month pilot. The biggest trial of a four-day work week so far.
Organised by 4 Day Week Global, the pilot aims to establish whether adopting a more flexible working pattern is a better fit for 21st-century businesses.
Does this signal the end of hustle culture?
This isn’t the first time a four-day working week has been mooted.
In 2019, a well-known research foundation conducted an internal consultation on whether they should trial the four-day work week. However, it found the concept ‘too operationally complex to implement’.
Dr Máire Kerrin, chartered Occupational Psychologist and one of the founding directors of Work Psychology Group says: “This was a forward-thinking idea back in 2019 but I can understand why it didn’t happen at that time. Fast forward three years however, and COVID has forced us to think differently about work on so many levels. So, this new experiment couldn’t be more timely. We look forward to seeing the outputs.”
And it seems like employees worldwide may be looking on with interest too if the response to Beyoncé’s new single is anything to go by. The superstar has been trending following the release of ‘Break My Soul’. The song alludes to the need to slow down, make time for ourselves and stop jobs from eating into our work/life balance. If social media is to be believed, she’s really managed to tap into the mood of employees everywhere.
What do employees want?
In a recent poll on our LinkedIn page, we asked our followers whether they would welcome the idea of a four-day work week.
A massive 94% of the 231 respondents said they were for it, 1% were against, and 5% were on the fence.
Four day working week: the considerations
“Not surprisingly, the general consensus seems to be that employees welcome a four-day working week,” notes Dr Máire Kerrin.
“Research shows it can lead to happier, more committed and engaged employees. On paper it’s believed to give workers more time to rest, recover and relax. Leaving them feeling more ready to get back to work when their working week rolls back around.”
Here at WPG, we already have a remote team set up and a small mix of flexible working schedules. So Sarah Stott, WPG’s Business Manager sees first hand some of the pros and cons to this way of working.
She says: “Working four-days a week can be very beneficial to people’s work/life balance and wellbeing. It might even save money on travel costs and lunches too. However, from an employers’ point of view, there are of course logistical, commercial, and practical implications to consider.”
Will it be the same day off for everyone?
If the four-day working week isn’t managed well, it could cause more problems than it solves. Will businesses put in place a blanket day off for everyone, meaning the company will be shut for three days and open for four? Or will employees get to the choose the four days they work?
Sarah says: “This could prove problematic if everyone did a different four days, especially if the senior team only has one day where everyone is in.”
What do you say to clients?
If you’re a B2B organisation, do your current clients pay you on a retainer whereby they can contact you, or a member of your team, Monday to Friday? If so, how will this work in a four-day working week world? And will your clients have different days off to you?
Sarah adds: “This is of particular importance for businesses who work internationally as some countries – such as Oman or Qatar – class Sunday as a working day. Plus, one of our clients is in Australia, so we have to write Fridays off as days when we can contact them. By the time we start working, they are finished for the weekend!”.
Is it just office workers who can benefit from a four-day working week?
How will this model work for people who are on shift work? Hospital workers, police, and delivery drivers’ working patterns are already different to the average 9-5. But can this model work sustainably across all sectors?
Sarah says: “Sometimes, there is also a perception that people perhaps start ‘winding down’ a little on Friday afternoons when it’s almost the weekend. Would Thursday become the new Friday? Would employees start wrapping up for the weekend on the last day of the four-day working week? There is lots to think !”.
In summary, the jury is out on whether we’re ready for the four day week. There are lots of logistical considerations so it will be helpful to see what comes out of this trial. What’s great is that there’s an appetite to explore this as a possibility.
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