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Four-day work week: your questions answered

The four-day week is becoming increasingly popular, as employees continue to prioritise greater flexibility and a better work-life balance following the pandemic. Already, companies such as Kickstart, Buffer and Awin as well as the Spanish government have adopted this new approach, which has shown to have positive results. But, should your business follow suit?

To make the right decision for your business, it’s not only important to be fully aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of a four-day week, but also the different ways that it can be implemented. Read on to learn more from HR Star’s Managing Director Kelly Tucker, as she answers some of the most commonly asked questions about a four-day week…

Q: Why is the four-day week becoming more popular? 

Since the pandemic, employees have become increasingly mindful of their work-life balance, and the correlation between this and their own happiness and wellbeing. 

As a result, companies are being called upon to promote flexibility and a positive work-life balance more than ever before. If they want to be seen as an attractive employer to new and existing workers, then adopting a four-day week is one way that companies can do this.

At the same time, research suggests that asking employees to work for four days instead of five actually increases productivity – which is, of course, good for business. This is due to employees being asked to work smarter, not longer.  

Q: How does a four-day week work in practice? 

It’s not just a case of shutting up shop on Fridays. There are a few different approaches you can take when it comes to adopting a four-day week: reduced (32 hours) and longer shifts (four, ten-hour shifts). 

If neither of the above options are viable for your business, there are other, potentially more suitable approaches that you can take, such as a nine-day fortnight or ‘Friyay’ (where employees get one Friday off each month). These approaches are easier to alternate where, in some cases, a four-day week is not possible. 

Q: What are the benefits of a four-day week? 

There are a lot of benefits for both employers and employees. One of the biggest benefits for both parties is greater efficiency or productivity; employees can allocate time more thoughtfully instead of spending longer hours in the office with not much to do. 

Other benefits include lower stress levels and ultimately less sick days among employees. It’s also more cost-effective for employees, as they don’t need to spend as much time or money commuting to work – which reduces their carbon footprint too! 

Q: Is there any real evidence to support a four-day week? 

A lot of bigger companies such as Kickstart have already adopted a four-day week and are seeing positive results. Looking into a more office-based study by Perpetual Guardian, showed an array of positive results when trialling a four-day week compared to previously working a five-day week. 

Sixty-three percent found a four-day week effective in attracting and retaining staff, for example, and 78% of employees felt happier and less stressed. What’s more, the study revealed higher scores on teamwork, readiness for change, team performance, wellbeing and job confidence. 

Q: What are the disadvantages of a four-day week? 

Of course, a four-day week has its disadvantages too. It requires more staff and, subsequently, extra outsourcing and insurance costs for the employer. Working longer hours over less days can also lead to fatigue and lower productivity in the later hours. 

Added to this, there’s the potential of greater schedule gaps and missed deadlines, plus poor customer satisfaction if there’s less time for staff to be available to them. 

Q: How do I know if a four-day week is right for my business? 

Ultimately, this could be dependent on the industry you operate in. For example, in hospitality and retail, shifts depend on demand and so organising a four-day week could be difficult. Pubs and restaurants tend to be quieter in the winter months where a four-day week could even be considered too much. Whereas in the busier summer periods, that’s when staff are needed.

My advice is don’t dive into a four-day week. Dip your toes in first and run a trial. Monitor your team’s performance during the time and ask for their feedback once the trial has come to an end – and then use all this information to make a more educated and permanent decision as to whether a four-day week is right for your company or not for the longer-term. 

Q: I still have questions about the four-day week – where can I find more information? 

Feel free to get in touch with a member of our team on [email protected] or 01242 500 557. We’re a friendly bunch and we’d be happy to help answer any questions you might have!

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