The four-day working week has gathered momentum recently. With countries such as Iceland and Japan successfully implementing this new way of working. The UK is also set to follow suit. The trial for the four-day working week in England is due to start in June 2022. Scotland will start the trial in 2023, and Wales will likely follow.
What is the Four-Day Working Week?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the four-day working week. There is concern from employees that they will need to compress their shifts, meaning they end up working longer hours. Employers are understandably concerned about the potential implications on productivity levels. The four-day working week means that employees work four days a week instead of five. The terms don’t change. They are paid the same salary and pension contributions but work reduced hours. The focus is on productivity rather than the number of hours spent working.
Benefits of Four-Day Working Week
We often hear people saying that they ‘never stop working, they ‘work 70 hours a week’ or similar. In our society, overworking seems to be a badge of honour. If someone tells us they only work 1 or 2 days a week, we naturally think of them as lazy or unmotivated. Of course, this probably isn’t the case, but, as a society, we have been programmed into thinking this way. Working hard means working over 40 hours a week while working less is simply slacking off. There is nothing to say that working longer hours means you are being any more productive than someone who works less, and in fact, there are many benefits to operating a four-hour week. Although the trial is yet to commence in the UK, we can gain some insights from studies on the new way of working in Iceland.
According to the report, the four-day working week resulted in the same or higher productivity. Employees working five days a week are more likely to be distracted throughout the working day by personal issues. Whereas, with the new way of working, they can take care of any personal tasks on their day off, making it easier to focus and concentrate on their work.
Another positive outcome of the four-day working week was improved wellbeing, including less stress and burnout and a better work-life balance. Fewer hours at work equates to more time at home and enjoying family life.
How to Cope with Four-Day Working Week
For a business, especially an SME, the prospect of a four-day working week being implemented may seem overwhelming. It may be that you are already struggling to get through your workload, which adds another layer of challenges. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you manage your employees and your workload, should the four-day working week come to fruition in the UK.
Many distractions can corrode time, and by reducing these, you can also help employees manage their workloads more efficiently. For instance, you might consider reducing the number or length of meetings or switching phones onto voicemail at set times throughout the day. Distractions waste time and reduce productivity.
If you are worried about the implications of the four-day working week on your clients, be open and honest with them. Advise them of the hours your employees will be working and when they can expect to be able to contact you. Open and honest communication is always the best way of working.
The average person may only be productive for three hours a day. Ultimately, most employees spend a significant amount of time on pointless tasks, such as eating, social media, texting, or taking breaks. The idea of anyone working 8 hours a day and being productive for this period is an illusion. Instead of focusing on the number of hours employees work, use a project-based working method. Assign tasks to your employees that you expect each day, and in this way, the number of hours they work won’t matter.
If you want to discuss the implications of the four-day working well or think of implementing this before it comes into force and needs some expert HR advice and guidance or HR support for business, you can contact Blue Tree HR Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org and 07516 335 419.