The four-day work week

Valentina Charalambous
March 12, 2022

The 4-day workweek has become more widespread when Andrew Barnes, a business innovator and owner of New Zealand law firm Perpetual Guardian, launched a four-day workweek project in 2018. In this pilot project, he found that the majority of his employees experienced a 20% increase in productivity. A four-day working week is an arrangement where a workplace has its employees work four days per week (32 hours) for their full-time (40 hours) pay and benefits. In fact, the employees are expected to cope with the same workload as in a normal five-day schedule but in less time.

Due to the increasing popularity of it, a number of companies in various countries have embraced the four-day working week and are now experimenting with it. What are the benefits of a four-day week? It seems that the four-day working week has promising results for an improved mental and physical health due to the reduced working hours which bring about reduced work-related stress. Employees have more time to manage their household and life responsibilities and parents, in particular, can spend more quality time with their families, which leads to an increase in productivity levels and employee satisfaction and reduces recruitment and retention costs.

On the other hand, certain companies might face several challenges when implementing the four-day working week. It seems that it does not suit every business model. For example, the hospitality, entertainment and customer service industries which require a 24/7 working schedule may face potential significant increases in payroll costs. Issues with customers might also arise which would require more effort and planning, making it hard to implement a shortened working week.

If a company decides to apply this model to office-based employees, that might be considered as favouritism towards them which might foster a sense of resentment among coworkers. In addition, it might be difficult to manage employee overtime especially during busy periods which might create an imbalance between colleagues that work to meet their deadlines and others that do not.

Alternative Solutions

Although there are a few disadvantages to implementing the four-day working week, businesses can choose the right approach to the new working schedule. An alternative solution is to create a flexible working hours policy, giving the employees the chance to start work up to 2 hours earlier than their normal schedule.

Another solution is to promote team bonding among co-workers by practicing bonding activities. For instance, family members can be invited to join these activities twice a month during working hours.

Soft skills training can be implemented twice a month. Not only will the colleagues have time to switch off from work, but they will also gain new knowledge, therefore develop their transferable skills which related to their work.

other news / insights