Is it a fad, is it a fiction or is it something that employers should seriously consider?
The idea of a four-day week has gained substantial traction in recent months. While many organisations still believe that there’s nothing wrong with the tried and tested five-day week, others are inclined to believe that the status quo simply doesn’t work for the modern professional.
Perhaps it’s the upheaval caused by the pandemic, perhaps it’s the opportunity afforded by remote working and the ability to work in different, more flexible ways. However you look at it, there’s no shortage of employees contending that a four-day week is better for all.
While this is an exciting prospect for employees (who doesn’t love a three-day weekend?), it leaves conscientious and caring employers with a bit of a dilemma. Should they make the move to a shortened week or is it simply not viable for most organisations.
Whatever your starting point and preconceived ideas around the topic, it is important to explore this idea thoroughly before making any big decisions. So, let us take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of a four-day working week?
Read on to discover whether this may be a viable option for your business.
The advantages of a 4-day week
A four-day working week can not only cut costs for your organisation but also your employees. If the company office closes for an extra day a week then many businesses can substantially reduce running costs. Employees would also benefit from this, as they pay less to commute to the office and cut their expenses on lunches and coffee.
Happier employees equate to an increase in productivity – why? Because a fulfilled workforce is better focused and motivated to perform their work tasks to the best of their ability.
According to a trial study of the four-day working week carried out by Sanford University, employees not only increased their productivity levels but also experienced far less stress, with a decrease in stress levels of around seven percent. Not only that, but well looked after employees are often far more loyal to the company they work for and are less likely to leave. And, as any employer will tell you, quality staff retention can have a substantial impact on a business’s bottom line.
Around two million British adults are currently unemployed due to childcare responsibilities, with 89% of those people being women. It is thought that a four-day working week would allow talented job seekers to apply for roles that give them that all-important work–life balance.
The idea of a four-day week is an appealing one and any company that adopts this may well see an increase in job applications – with some of the best talent in the industry choosing your business over any other.
The disadvantages of a 4-day week
For all its advantages, a four-day week also has some disadvantages. For one, many businesses are not suited to a four-day work week model due to customer demands and a genuine requirement for longer trading hours.
While it is possible in some instances to squash five days into four without sacrificing total working hours, this typically isn’t possible for organisations with standard hours in excess of 37.5 per week. After all, a 40-hour week means that team members would be required to spend 10 hours a day at their desks or workstations – and that’s before any lunch or break-time allocation.
This approach has the potential to dramatically increase stress levels for any workforce and may not be a viable option for predominantly manual labour jobs.
There are, of course, organisations that have suggested they would be prepared to pay 100% salaries for 80% of existing working hours where there is proof that productivity can be maintained. However, for many companies it is simply not feasible to increase productivity or efficiency by this much. Or if there is, employers can quite rightly ask why people weren’t working to their full potential in the first place.
It is also important to consider the effect a four-day week may have on customer satisfaction levels. Closing an office for an extra day may mean that valuable customers cannot get in contact with your business, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction. Whilst technologies such as chatbots could be a viable solution to this problem, there is no doubt that many customers would prefer to a real person during the working week.
If you want to talk it through, give us a call.
The team at TEDCO Business Support has helped thousands of businesses to grow, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), so we’re here to support you.
Get in touch today to see how we can help you. Give us a call on 0191 516 61 02 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.