The four-day working week has been exponentially gaining attention. Governments across the world are evaluating the viability of the revolutionary four-day workweek concept and whether it will change the course of history.
The four-day workweek can be implemented in two ways: the first one consists of an overall decrease in hours and the second one highlights longer hours for fewer days.
How can a four-day workweek be viable?
While AI has been a controversial topic in the labour force, it is paving the way to implement the four-day workweek. Advanced technological developments are creating the possibility of the shortened working hours as humans are obtaining the ability to complete fixed work in lesser time without sacrificing consumer satisfaction and quality.
What additional benefits does a four-day workweek offer?
Companies are experiencing heightened levels of employee satisfaction and motivation stemming from the decrease in working hours. Companies have recorded an increase in company loyalty and collaborative spirit along with a decrease in stress levels. Liz Supinski, director of research and product for SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) said, “Generally speaking, workflex variations are one of the least expensive ways to make employees happier.”
Additionally, productivity and output levels are not damaged, proving that a four-day workweek is perhaps the answer.
Stanford University also conducted a holistic review to confirm the relationship between productivity and hours worked. Overworked employees correlated to less productivity compared to regular de-stressed employees. Nordic Countries such as Denmark, which are regarded as the world’s most productive countries calculate an average of only 27 hours a week. Microsoft Japan also experimented and modelled productivity during a four-day workweek. A staggering 40% boost in productivity was discovered.
Furthermore, a four-day workweek is environmentally favourable. Microsoft Japan also found a 23% drop in electricity costs during their experiment. Employees tend to commute less and use fewer resources of office buildings if their hours are decreased, which leads to a sharp decline in the carbon footprint a company creates. The government of Utah also conducted a trial that decreased the workweek from five to four-days and concluded that it saved 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to removing 2,300 cards off the road for one year. This conclusive study proved that the effect of four-day workweeks is constructive.
Can the workforce improve and benefit through the four-day workweek?
Workplaces can advocate for higher gender equality by allowing employees to maintain a better work/life balance through a four-day workweek. It further enables female employees to maintain households and children peacefully, especially since studies have proved that women tend to bear a higher percentage of the burden.
A four-day workweek also leads to more satisfied employees who can help control the absenteeism and labour turnover rate. Newer generations also opt for companies that offer higher flexibility and variable opportunities, making the four-day workweek proposition an important aspect for potential employees. Happier employees influence better communication and greater engagement, leading to an overall increase in the quality of the workforce and innovation.
Countries across the globe are currently evaluating the benefits of a four-day workweek. Spain is currently running the first pilot test with thousands of employees, while India is working on amending labour laws.
The Final Evaluation
The implementation and type of the four-day workweek play a crucial and pivotal part in the impact. Not all businesses can adapt to the four-day workweek; for example, direct retailers and businesses in the hospitality sector cannot benefit without losing customers and potential revenue. Supinski, said, “It’s not that flexible initiatives can’t be done; it gets more complex.” This complexity makes the process taxing and extremely costly. Customers expect some businesses to be available 24×7. Cali Williams Yost, a workplace futurist and strategist noted, “You have to have serious logistics in place and be able to respond to customers and compete.”
While implementing a four-day workweek can be complicated and tricky, with the right business model, workforce type, and preparation, it can prove to be successful and beneficial for employees and employers.