HR & Employment, Leadership, Work & Wellbeing

Should You Trial a 4-Day Working Week? The Pros and Cons

Business Advice | 24 May 2023 | 11 months ago

There has been a lot of talk about 4 day working weeks in recent years, especially in light of the pandemic when a lot of businesses embraced a more flexible way of working. It’s something that has been trialled by a lot of businesses, the majority of which have declared it a success, but is it something that you should consider? Below, we have taken a look at the pros and cons of a 4 day working week.

What is a 4-Day Working Week?

A 4-day work week is an arrangement that businesses have where employees work for four full days per week, instead of the traditional five day work week. Sometimes, employees work for longer hours each day to compensate for the reduced work days – for example, splitting a 40 hour week into 4 days of 10 hours, rather than 5 days of 8 hours – but other businesses choose to get rid of those additional hours completely and reduce the time spent working altogether. The specific details of a 4 day work week can vary depending on the organisation and the industry, but many businesses choose to extend the weekend by one extra day.

How Does a 4-Day Working Week Work?

There are a lot of ways that a 4 day working week can work for a business, and different companies choose to implement it in different ways. For a lot of teams, increasing the weekend to 3 days is the most obvious choice. Not only does this give employees longer to enjoy their time away from work, but it’s something to look forward to at the end of each week. After all, who doesn’t want their weekend to begin on a Friday?

The key part of a 4 day working week is that employees still receive the same amount of pay, and their salary isn’t reduced because they are working fewer days. However, they are still expected to maintain the same productivity rate as a 5 day working week, with their workload being condensed into a shorter period of time. At the end of a 4 day working week, the same amount of work should have been done as a 5 day working week.

What are the Pros of a 4-Day Working Week?

There are a number of benefits of a 4 day working week, which is why it’s something that a lot of businesses are trialling, with many making it a permanent fixture. Some of the most notable benefits of a 4 day working week include happier staff, which has an impact on employee productivity and job satisfaction. When staff are happier at work – and who wouldn’t be, knowing that they now have an extra day away from the office – they are more likely to go above and beyond to complete tasks to a high standard. It improves the work life balance, giving staff more time to spend with friends, family and doing what they enjoy away from the office.

It’s also a huge help to staff who have childcare issues. There is no denying the extreme cost of childcare, but needing it for one less day a week can significantly reduce this. It also means that even staff who don’t pay for childcare will benefit, as they won’t have to rely on friends and family to look after their children five days a week.

Another benefit of a 4 day working week is how attractive it is for new staff. With employees now used to working from home and hybrid working environments, a lot of people are seeking out a more flexible way of working. With a growing number of businesses embracing a 4 day working week, doing so can help you to stand out and attract top talent. Plus, it helps to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, which appeals to those who are concerned about the impact that business has on the world around us.

What are the Cons of a 4-Day Working Week?

Though there are a number of benefits of a 4 day working week, there are also some cons to consider. One of the main downsides is that, if not implemented correctly and with hard working staff at the forefront, it could potentially damage productivity. A 4 day working week is only likely to be beneficial if your team is keen to work hard on those days, meaning that an additional day off doesn’t prevent tasks and projects being completed on time.

Another downside of a 4 day working week is that it could be disruptive to communication with companies that work 5 days a week. If you regularly interact with other businesses – whether this is because you outsource processes or because you provide B2B services – working a 4 day working week can mean that emails aren’t replied to as quickly as they could be, and that meetings have to be scheduled with one less working day to choose from.

Should You Trial It?

As you can see, a 4 day working week does have pros and cons, but many of these cons can be overcome with careful planning and dedicated staff. For a lot of businesses, the advantages of a 4 day working outweigh any disadvantages, but this really does depend on the type of business that you have, the work you do and how your day to day processes are handled.

It’s hard to know if a 4 day working week will be good for your business without experiencing how it would work in practice, which is why trialling it is usually a good idea. This will give you an idea of how beneficial a 4 day working week could be for you and your team, or whether it’s something that is better left to other companies.

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