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The 4-Day Working Week: Could it Work for Your Business?

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With the month of May seeming to have more 4-day weeks than 5-day weeks we thought it would be a good time to update you on the 4-day working week trial. Long-awaited data from this pilot arrived in February – and results were overwhelmingly positive.

Between June and December 2022, workers at more than 60 UK companies with more than 3,300 employees tested a four-day working week. As a result of this trial, more than 90% of participating businesses have opted to continue with the four-day week, with 18 adopting it permanently.

The trial involved granting employees 100% pay for working 80% of their normal hours, with employees committing to delivering 100% productivity despite the shorter work week. In many cases, firms that participated in the pilot, organised by non-profit 4 Day Week Global, reported their workers have been able to:

  • Spend more time with their families
  • Pursue hobbies and 
  • Take greater personal care. 

With emphasis now more than ever on achieving a better work-life balance we look at the 4-day working week and how it can be applied to businesses.

What Is the Four-Day Working Week?

It is a relatively new concept that some employers are beginning to offer employees. The four-day working week can be organised in different ways, but the core principle is that employees only work for four days each week instead of five. Depending on the structure of the business, employees might work from Monday to Thursday, Tuesday to Friday, or on a rotating schedule of four days that change each week. 

Crucially, employees retain 100% of their salary, even though they only work approximately 80% of their previous hours. In exchange, employees commit to keeping productivity at 100%, despite working fewer hours. 

This is known as the 100:80:100 model: 100% pay for 80% of the time, at 100% productivity.

Benefits of the four-day week for employers

Talent attraction and retention:

When UK-based Atom Bank implemented a four-day week policy in 2021, the number of applications the company received increased by 500%. And for Wonderlust Group, an outdoor tech company, the effects were even more notable: applications went up 800%, and the company’s retention rate shot up to 98%.

Increased efficiency and productivity:

A key part of the four-day working week is that employees commit to keeping productivity at 100%, even though they’re working fewer hours. And surprisingly, this does seem to work: 64% of the businesses surveyed in the Henley Business School study say that a four-day week has improved productivity. 

Environmental benefits:

A shorter workweek can lead to reduced commuting and energy consumption, resulting in a positive impact on the environment.

Better engagement and decreased absenteeism: 

Employees that have more energy tend to be more engaged in their work — which is another huge advantage of the four-day week. Studies have found that a four-day week resulted in a 62% decrease in sick days taken by employees. Given the high cost that unplanned absences can represent for a business, this is a significant benefit.

Disadvantages of the 4-day Working Week

Reduced productivity

If employees are working fewer hours, there is a risk that they may become less productive and efficient in their work.

Decreased availability

A shorter workweek may result in employees being less available to clients or colleagues, which could negatively impact communication and collaboration.

Difficulty in scheduling

Implementing a four-day workweek may require significant coordination and scheduling changes, which could be challenging for some businesses to manage.

Tips for Businesses Considering Introducing a 4-Day Working Week

  1. Assess the feasibility: Before implementing a 4-day working week, it is essential to evaluate its practicality in your business operations. Check if there will be any disruption to workflow or client requirements.
  2. Test the waters: Consider a pilot program to test the effectiveness of the four-day workweek. This will help you identify potential issues and determine if the system is sustainable in the long term.
  3. Communicate effectively: It is crucial to communicate regularly with your employees before, during, and after the introduction of the four-day workweek. Explain to them the benefits and the reasons behind the change, answer their questions and concerns, and Listen to their feedback.
  4. Be flexible: A four-day workweek isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Adapt the schedule to suit your business operations, and provide flexible scheduling options when needed.
  5. Review and adjust: Evaluate the effectiveness of the system and make adjustments as necessary. Collect feedback from employees and clients and use it to identify areas for improvement.
  6. Consider remote work options: With the increase in remote work, some businesses can implement a hybrid work model that includes both remote and office work to accommodate the four-day workweek.
  7. Monitor the workload: Ensure that the workload is distributed evenly among employees, and they are not overworking on the four working days.

Consider the 4-day Working Week With our Support

In conclusion, the four-day working week trial has provided valuable insights into the potential that reduced work hours have in improving productivity and employee satisfaction. 

However, companies must evaluate its practicality for their respective industries before implementation and take into account customer requirements. 

Despite the headline-grabbing results, the trial didn’t work for every business. Some firms abandoned the experiment; others haven’t yet made the move to adopt the format full-time. Even those firms continuing with reduced hours are navigating new challenges from shortened workweeks. Though this reflects a small portion of the trial’s participants, it means the four-day workweek isn’t an automatic solution for all.

By following our tips on how to introduce a four-day week effectively, businesses can enjoy the benefits that come with this system while avoiding any potential pitfalls. With remote working becoming increasingly popular, adapting the schedule to include both office and remote work may be an option worth considering too. Ultimately, if you’re looking for ways to improve your business operations or increase employee satisfaction – introducing a 4 day work week could just be what you need!

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.