The Four-Day Working Week – What’s In It For Employers? What’s In It For The Planet?

What Is A Four-Day Working Week?

In June 2022, 70 companies began an experiment to see if they could make a four-day working week work for their business. The idea behind it is that staff work 80% of their hours for 100% of their pay.

Since the national lockdowns for Covid, many companies have taken a more flexible approach to where and when their employees work, as long as the tasks are completed. Whether your approach is home working, flexible, hybrid or office based is a difficult decision, but in the current market, where good staff is hard to find, is a different approach to your time a workable solution?

empty-office

Are Reduced Working Hours Feasible?

For many employers it is simply unworkable due to rotas, and the fact that work is not based on productivity (retail, hospitality etc.) but for others it might be the perfect solution to retain staff, improve morale, boost welfare and mental health, and reduce costs. However, with energy costs rising, is there a greater benefit to the employer (or landlord) to not heat the office for an extra day, and would the home-worker prefer to be in the office, rather than have to heat their homes 24/7?

A quick survey at the Allotts office revealed that most staff would prefer to come into the office as it’s infinitely more sociable, and having experienced home working during Covid, they were happier to return to the office when sanctions eased off. We all have different reasons for wishing to be in the office or not wishing to work from home, or even to increase hours over four days to gain another day. Perhaps simply because it seems like a pipe dream, we dismiss it?

It has also been suggested that the four-day working week could also boost retail sales, however this is perhaps an optimistic view, as there is no salary increase, simply more free time. How that time is used is down to the individual, but clearly it gives more options to pursue hobbies, work for a charity, spend time gardening or keeping fit, the possibilities are endless. For working parents, it offers more time to spend with their families.

working-alone-at-table

Will This Benefit You?

Could the four-day week also be nothing more than a happiness mirage? Are we forever chasing rainbows, seeking something that, when it becomes the norm, or part of everyday life, it no longer makes us happy. In France in 2000, workers hours reduced from 39 hours to 35 in large firms, and an assessment later concluded that it no longer improved the workers happiness.

One thing that could impinge on the decision for either a complete change or simply increased flexibility is how productivity is measured. The challenge here is different workers might complete a similar task at a very different pace. It completely depends on the task. Here at Allotts, we have a huge variety of tasks, but setting up a database for one client could be completely different to another client, yet we charge the same. If we charge the same, should we allocate the same amount of time, and if so, how do we account for the degree of difficulty?

There is no automation in a PR agency, and whilst we use software to help us perform specific tasks, no one task is the same, and therefore it is almost impossible to allocate a specific amount of time to that task. With that in mind, it seems very unlikely that we could easily measure and therefore increase our productivity.