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Could a Four Day Work Week really become the standard?

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Could 4 day work weeks really become the standard?

Since 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19, global working practices have been changing dramatically. Flexibility has become a key focus for many employees and workers, and as some businesses are preparing to ‘go back to normal’ with a return to the office, many employees are choosing to change roles and even careers to retain the work/life balance they have been enjoying.  

As we look at the future of work, it is hard to ignore the concept of a 4-day work week, as Ireland’s pilot program starts this month with 20 Irish businesses taking part.  The concept of reducing employees work hours without a reduction in pay may seem counter-intuitive to many employers, however, Four Day Week believes the benefits are many:

  • Many companies who have trialled or introduced the four-day week report an increase in productivity and profitability.
  • The physical and mental well-being of workers is often improved due to greater control over working hours and a better balance throughout their lives. This often results in fewer sick days also.
  • Families, especially mothers, often experience a better distribution of caring responsibilities between both parents, while also saving on childcare costs.
  • Research suggests that moving to a four-day week could reduce carbon emissions by almost a fifth, through a reduction in commuting and energy consumption in office buildings.

Another interesting benefit from a four-day workweek is increased employee morale, they feel more engaged with their work and as a result increase loyalty and retention.
Along with the impressive list of pros, there are of course cons and specific industries that may not be suitable:

  • Collaboration could become difficult in certain organisations as schedules may not align and could push out timelines of projects.
  • It could be an expensive experiment, especially with industries that operate 7 days a week. New employees may be required to ensure smooth operations, increasing salary costs.
  • Customer experience/ service could be negatively impacted if a 4-day work week affects their ability to access service.
  • Employees who struggle to fulfil their duties within a 4-day work week may rely on working overtime.

Although the goal of Four Day Week is to achieve the same results in fewer hours, it is not suitable for all industries or businesses currently. If you are considering introducing a 4-day work week in your organisation, a smaller trial should be implemented before rolling out to the wider company. This allows you time to assess and evaluate the effects on productivity, employee well-being and outputs.

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