12 May What are the implications of the four day working week?
The Four-day working week seems to be the next big thing on the horizon for office workers. A recent study conducted in the UK, run by some of the biggest companies in the country concluded that a four day week did not have a negative impact on productivity. What’s more, nearly 30% of the 100 companies that took part in the study have gone on to adopt the reduced hours beyond the timescale of the experiment.
This welcome change in pace from the ramped up average workloads of 2022/23 following the pandemic has fostered positives across the board.The reduced work hours have enabled employees to spend more time with their families and loved ones. This quality time away from work has promoted a better culture of self-care for workers, which has directly correlated with more efficient hours at work.
Despite the buzz generated by the study and the news surrounding it, there were some cases where the Four-day workweek did not suit the workplace and damaged efficiency and employee morale. Some companies abandoned the experiment, unable to manage the shortened week whereas others faced major challenges for employee workloads.
How do I know if the Four-day workweek is right for my company?
The Four-day work week isn’t a miracle cure for every company. There are some hard concessions that have to be had in order for the new schedule to work.
The size of your company matters.
In June 2022, Mark Roderick’s engineering and industrial supplies company Allcap joined the UK four-day workweek trial. Roderick told the BBC that after working ‘at full tilt’ during the pandemic, he had hoped the new relaxed schedule would help his team get some extra rest.
The end result was anything but an improvement to the workplace culture, staff health or morale throughout the trial. Rather than offer workers a three-day weekend, Roderick instead opted to give his employees one working day off every fortnight. This alternative working week was chosen as Allcap doesn’t have the manpower to give all staff one day off per week.
Roderick went on to tell the BBC: ‘As opposed to 10 normal workdays, we found that employees would have nine extreme ones – once they got to their scheduled day off they were exhausted. Once we factored in holidays, sickness and caring responsibilities, we also struggled to find cover for an employee on their rest day.’
The situation quickly became untenable for Allcap, and the trial was abandoned at most of their sites. Interestingly, the decision to keep the shortened working week was made at Allcap’s warehouse and manufacturing plants, due to the higher number of employees present there.
Roderick’s experience with the trial demonstrates that the size of your workforce is critical to the successful implementation of the Four-day work week, if you do not follow the traditional Monday to Thursday schedule.
What your company does will determine the success of the four day week.
Roderick’s interview with the BBC gives us excellent insight into where the limitations of the Four-day working week are. If your company works on a tight or reactive schedule, the four day week may be impractical to implement.
Jumping the gun on the Four-day working week.
As alluring as the prospect of a shortened week sounds for many of us, it is still statistically rare in the United Kingdom. Only 18 of the 100 companies that took part in the study have made the change permanent. If your office relies on communication with other companies, it may be worth holding on to the traditional working week for a while longer. The work efficiency of your team may be hampered if communication with other agencies is slowed because of misaligned working schedules.
How do I ensure my office is able to support a Four-day working week?
It is likely that if you run an office based company, you adopted some form of remote working during the pandemic. As we discussed in one of our recent newsletters, it is likely that remote working will become an integral, permanent part of office work in the near future.
If you would like free advice on how your company can prepare to switch to a Four-day working week, give us a call on 08000 614072 for more information. Alternatively, fill out our contact form and a member of our team will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
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