The Latest Trend: A 4 Day Work Week

Across the UK some businesses are beginning to trial a 4-day work week to innovate the traditional 5-day work week. Countries such as Norway, Denmark, and Netherlands are already a step ahead, where some businesses are starting to recognise the potential benefits of a shorter work week for both employers and their employees. However, this might not suit all businesses and the loss of a workday might be difficult for employees who may find themselves working 10, 12, or even 14 hours a day to keep up the standard weekly pay.

So, what are the benefits?

There are both positive and negative factors that will come into play regarding the 4-day work week, but ultimately, it’s down to the organisation and whether it would fit their needs or not. Here we discuss some advantages and disadvantages that employers may want to consider. 

Advantages of a 4-day work week for employees and employers.

  • Better work-life balance for your employees. This will allow more free time for employees to enjoy the parts of life that are often neglected such as rest and leisure. This will help avoid employee burnout.
  • Reduce employee stress. Life admin tasks such as shopping, cleaning and managing finances will be easier to complete as employees will have an extra day in the week to get on top of the important things that matter in their personal life.
  • Trials have shown that a reduced working week will increase an organisation’s productivity. A Henley Business School study in 2019 found that 250 firms participating in a 4-day week saved an estimated £92 billion a year because their employees were happier, less stressed, and took fewer sick days. Put simply, a rested worker is a better worker.
  • Greater talent. Reducing the work week enables organisations to attract and retain talented employees.

Disadvantages of a 4-day work week for employees and employers.

  • 4-day weeks won’t work for all businesses. Some employees may feel like they cannot fit their workloads into a 4-day working week. Businesses that offer critical services to customers such as call centres, may find that a shorter work week may lead to customer frustration.
  • Longer working days might not be beneficial for all employees, especially those who spend their evenings caring for children and family. A change in working hours will require time and effort to adapt routines to a new working reality, some employees may find this difficult.
  • Employees may increase their overtime. Some employees may need extra money to survive day to day and rely on overtime to meet their needs. Reducing the working week to 4-days might force employees to work more hours in a day to fit their usual working hours into less days.

It can be difficult to identify whether your business is suitable for a 4-day work week or whether it can be successfully implemented into your company. Whilst many smaller businesses have adapted well to the changes in their work week with both employers and employees reaping the benefits, it is important to consider the negative impacts too.

Will the ‘trend’ across businesses be short-lived? or do you think a 4-day work week would benefit your business and employees? Why don’t you try it out and explore the pros and cons yourself!

If you have any questions regarding this topic, or anything else HR related, feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to help.