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Employer's guide to implementing the four-day work week

The world’s largest pilot of a four-day work week has launched in the UK. The pilot will last six months, with 70 companies and 3,300 workers participating. The workers taking part will work 80% of their usual hours at 100% productivity while receiving no cuts to their pay.

While the pilot has already commenced, and it is now too late to sign up, a four-day work week might still be something you are considering as an employer. In this article, we look at the benefits of the four-day work week and the steps you can take to implement it.

 

Potential benefits of a four-day work week

There are several potential advantages of a four-day working week, including:

Increased productivity

As employees spend less time in the workplace, the general theory is that they will be more focused during the time they are there and, therefore, more productive. Overworked employees can be less productive, and giving staff more time off during the week can mean they will return to work feeling more refreshed and work more efficiently.

Attract and retain quality staff

Particularly since the pandemic, lockdowns and millions of people switching to remote working, many people are now thinking more about the importance of a work-life balance and more flexibility in their work. A four-day work week could help you attract and, most importantly, retain the best talent with job satisfaction and company loyalty.

Reduced costs

A four-day work week can result in reduced costs for everyone. If you decide to close your office for the additional day per week, this will result in less running costs. It will also mean the commuting costs for everyone travelling to work will be reduced, again making it an attractive workplace.

Potential disadvantages of a four-day work week

While there are many advantages to implementing a four-day work week, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered, such as:

Will it suit your business model?

While the four-day week suits many types of businesses well, it might not work for everyone, and this is something you must consider.  Will a four-day work week leave you short-staffed on days workers are not working? You must assess how you can adapt your business model to suit if you are to implement a four-day work week.

Increased stress for employees

While employees are only working 80% of their hours, they will still be required to do 100% of their job to maintain their current workloads. Therefore, employees having fewer days to complete their work might increase work-related stress and thus impact employee satisfaction.

Taking the wrong approach

In the current pilot scheme, a critical part is ensuring workers are actually doing a four-day work week, and not the same number of hours but in four days. Often a four-day working week can be confused with compressed hours. Compressed hours mean longer days and can ultimately lead to decreased staff productivity and work-life balance. While they are off for three days a week, their working days are much longer.

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