4-day work week: a good idea or just another trendy topic?
How many issues have become relevant in the wake of the pandemic? On the employer side: new approaches to ways of working, new purposes, changes in structures, skill requirements, etc.
For employees: meaningful work, benefits, feeling valued, and opportunity for advancement, but there is one thing that is getting more and more attention and that is the 4-day work week.
Far from being a dream, this is already becoming a reality in some European countries. In Great Britain, more than 3,300 employees from 70 companies took part in the largest pilot test of the 4-day work week with no reduction in pay conducted by 4 Day Week Global, with many employees enjoying more Friday with their families and doing activities that were previously destined for the early weekend, such as going to the supermarket.
Between 2015 and 2019 Iceland also conducted tests on the reduction of working days, concluding that the success was overwhelming and thus concretizing that employee satisfaction and increased productivity.
This is the main detail alleged by critics of the five-day week, that it no longer applies to 21st-century post-industrial economies because it makes welfare and productivity deficient and precarious.
In the United States, many companies are already beginning to test and discuss the 4-day workweek and whether workers need to work 40 hours a week.
Advantages of a 4-day workweek
If an office that generates energy, water, and commodity consumption is shut down one day a week, it is obvious that a significant drop in consumption numbers will be seen.
In Utah, a test was conducted for government employees and the result was a significant ecological impact. In addition to the energy cost savings, the reduction of at least 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by closing the large office building on Fridays. If employee travel is also included, Utah estimated it could save 12,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of taking 2,300 cars off the road for a year, simply by working one less day a week!
Who doesn’t like long weekends…having an extra day to enjoy at home, on an outing, with family doing what you love gives the possibility of increased happiness, company loyalty, and a considerable reduction in health problems.
Mainly from the new generations who are looking for other types of incentives, besides the economic one. This benefit keeps employees engaged and focused on productivity.
The non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, which assists companies with the transition from the traditional 5-day week and even pilot tests before that transition, claims that this reduction in work days improves business productivity, strengthens the health of workers and their families, challenges the gender equality issue and ultimately will bring sustainability benefits to the environment by reducing the carbon footprint.
Will it work for everyone?
Unfortunately for many industries, a 4-day week is not possible, especially if the partners, investors, and customers of a given company continue to work.
Longer hours and stress
It may be that with a shortened week employees will be pressured to fulfill their assignments and increase daily working hours which would cause increased stress.
For the detractors of the 4-day week (and they do exist), companies should prioritize flexibility and rest by not burdening their employees with forced work for 4 days a week.
There should be limits during the 5-day work week, respect the schedule, and take time off between one task and another. Also, employees should be committed to completing tasks even if they take time off for relaxation.
What do you think? Is it feasible for your company to comply with the 4-day work week?