Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, we have seen Companies adopt new ways of working and employees change their attitude to work-life balance. Some employers are testing a four-day working week.

In February 2020, research shows that 5.7% of workers worked exclusively from home. In April 2020, this rose to 43.1%. This has not been the only change, however. This month, 70 UK Companies, and more than 3,300 of their employees have begun a trial of a new four day working pattern.

This trial is due to last for 6 months and is based on the 100:80:100 model.

  • 100% of pay
  • For 80% of the working week
  • In exchange for 100% commitment to productivity

There are many benefits to having a four-day working week:

  • Employees

Work- life balance is important for employees to maintain their mental and physical health and avoid excess stress and burnout. Rest and recuperation are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and an additional rest day provides more opportunity for extra-curricular activities, which can assist employees in developing transferrable skills.

A reduction in hours also allows for greater flexibility and equality for those with childcare or caring responsibilities. 

  • Company

An increased work life balance generally leads to improved workplace satisfaction which in turn leads to higher productivity. Trials of the four-day working week in New Zealand also show that employees are less likely to take sick leave.

  • Climate

 A reduction in days at the office means a reduction in the carbon footprint. With the rising cost of transport, employees are likely to find a significant cost saving.

There are also disadvantages to the four-day working week.

  • One size does not fit all

A four-day working week will not work for every employer. Although it may be appropriate for a ‘traditional’ office environment, for those who work in healthcare, or in the restaurant industry, the requirement for services 7 days a week still applies, and so employers may need to look to increase numbers to cover absent staff.

  • Wrong approach

Depending on how the policy is managed, a four-day week could lead to increased pressure on employees and have a negative impact on their health. Employees may feel they need to work outside of office hours to complete tasks, which would make the policy counterproductive.

  • Customer satisfaction

Industry dependant, customers may feel that their needs are not being met, or that access to services is affected by employees only working for four days. An option would be for employees to adopt a shift pattern between Monday to Friday to ensure all days are covered, but there will ultimately be times where customer access is reduced.

The outcome of the trial is yet to occur, but it will be interesting to see the outcome and consider whether it is something more employers will adapt in the future.

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