What is a 4-day work week?
The idea of a 4-day work week is a relatively new concept where employers allow their staff to work four rather than five days in a full-time role and have a three-day weekend. This change in the structure of the working week doesn't necessarily involve any loss of pay and aims to benefit the mental health, morale and productivity of employees
This new model is a modern alternative to the 1926-invented five-day work week, reduced from a six-day week before, and is potentially a way to deliver health and wellbeing benefits to staff and financial benefits to companies.
So can a 4-day work week actually work?
The idea behind this work week structure involves employees completing the same amount of work in those four days rather than five, incentivised by an extended weekend. For some, this will mean working longer and harder in those four days, but for others, it will mean boosting their productivity and reducing time-wasting which will result in only a 32 hour work-week with the same workload.
This structure is already working for some companies, with many across the world successfully implementing this modern idea of a work-life balance and scrapping the idea of a 38 hours or more working week. There is also research indicating improvements for the company's bottom line - partially due to employee satisfaction, higher employee retention and the emphasis on advocating for reduced congestion and environmental damage from commutes and lower operating costs for businesses and a more dynamic economy.
What countries have implemented a 4-day work week?
The 4 Day Week Global Foundation has launched an international pilot program where companies take part in a six-month trial. This is currently running across the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. More than 20 organisations in Australia are trialling this innovative model from August, including mortgage brokerages, marketing companies and social enterprise groups.
However, many organisations and companies have tried out this type of work week independently. In Iceland, Reykjavik City Council and the national government undertook their own trial of fewer working hours in 2015 and 2019 of 35- to 39-hour work weeks with 2500 people. Productivity and services at work stayed the same or in some cases improved. Companies as broad as Unilever New Zealand and Microsoft Japan have also trialled this approach successfully, with some citing COVID-19’s effects on office life as a driving factor to be open to new work styles that help improve employees’ lives.
Why do companies choose a 4-day work week?
Companies can be motivated to adopt a 4-day work week to help improve employee productivity, job satisfaction and well-being as well as to keep up with the changing requirements of a modern workforce. Research has found workplaces embracing the 4-day model have workers who are more committed, more productive and less stressed. Flexible workspaces have long been connected to lower turnover, better recruitment options, lower instances of burn out and improved workforce diversity.
Is a 4-day working week the future of work?
As experts in the field of flexible working and flexible workspaces, Christie Spaces has begun to see the demand from employees for more flexible working standards from their employers. This can present in many forms and depends on each individual situation and industry. One of the ways employees can provide this flexibility is through a hybrid workspace, which uses a rotating team schedule for office attendance.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of new Christie Spaces members looking to implement this hybrid office model has jumped from around 5% to 15-20% of all our enquiries. We have also seen an increase in the need for 24-hour workspace access as workers look to move towards different shifted working times (either to avoid public transport crowds or overcrowding in the office itself). This shift in needs is a big indicator of the changing attitudes to the traditional working week and the introduction of flexible working hours and situations. Naturally, as the benefits to this new emphasis on flexibility and work-life are recognised; the transition to a 4-day working week that maintains productivity levels could be the next shift in our working lives!