The benefits of a four-day working week

Written by Mairead Simons

It has recently been circulating that 30 British companies have joined a new pilot scheme which will be trialling a 4-day working week, over a 6 month period. Recent trials of a four-day working week in Iceland have been reportedly successful. Microsoft's Japan offices also trialled it and saw an impressive 40% increase in productivity. The argument for the 4 day week has many facets, which I will touch upon below.

Modern technological developments are speeding up the way we work significantly, as spending time on lengthy paperwork and spreadsheets has long been forgotten due to Cloud software. Improved technology and greater access to this can potentially improve productivity, meaning long 5 days weeks may not be necessary for the future. If all the work can be completed within a 4 day period, then there will be no need for the traditional structure of a 5-day working week.

The increase of remote working could also add to the argument for a 4-day working week, with a survey by ConnectSolutions showing that 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month show increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time. This suggests that without the distractions of a busy office environment, more work may be getting done in shorter periods of time, making a 5th working day redundant.

Employee satisfaction can also be increased through the introduction of a 4-day working week. Having an extra day of relaxation can have all manners of impact on an employee and their overall satisfaction in their role, leading to greater productivity. The ‘reward’ of a shorter working week may leave employees feeling valued more highly and with greater loyalty to their company.

Creating a more equal workplace may also be one of the results that spring from a 4-day working week. Although most people would like to think that the world has come a long way in regards to equality, the world of work is not always an equal playing field. Childcare restraints and healthcare problems can often mean some workers are limited to part-time when they might not ideally choose this. Rolling out a shorter working week for all employees could mean that care and work commitments can be juggled easier, meaning greater equality within companies and greater overall job satisfaction.

Another, perhaps overlooked, the impact is the effect on carbon footprints. Working, and therefore travelling, one day less per week could see a positive effect on the environment and our individual carbon footprints. If more and more companies put this policy in place then the effect on the greater picture could be astounding.

In business, it is important to do what works best for yourself and your company. Some will find that the implementation of a 4 day week works significantly better than others, and some roles will not have the luxury of this being an option (healthcare workers). So although the positives can be seen, is it really fair to put in a 4 day working week when it cannot be an option for everybody?

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