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Four-day week a hit of the season?

Alexander Mashkov

Alexander Mashkov

Calendar

31 March

Time

4 min

Eye

131

A four-day work week sounds like a sweet fantasy of people who just want to do nothing. But in fact, it is the next stage of a rather natural desire - to do more and work less.
Four-day week a hit of the season?

This is now the norm for us - to work for 8 hours a day during a five-day working week. Literally 150 years ago, workers had a worse schedule - they could work 10 or 12 hours a day during a six-day working week (just like in today's China). But, as I have already said, the reduction of working hours is a natural historical process associated with technological growth, automation and increased labor efficiency. And it's pretty pointless to fight this process.

What is a 4-day work week in general?

A person can not work productively for more than 5-6 hours a day (even with the regulated 8 hours, he spends the rest of the time on conversations, smoke breaks, etc.). Therefore, today many countries with developed economies (for example, France, Germany or Finland) are trying to switch to a four-day period, hoping that this will positively affect the emotional state of employees and increase their productivity.

A four-day work week involves two approaches:

  • Compressed working week - the usual 40 working hours per week are compressed to 4 working days, and you have to work 10 hours a day. Yes, despite the fact that a person can not work productively for more than 6 hours (some studies even talk about a maximum of 3 productive hours).
  • Reduced working week - working hours are reduced to 32 hours per week.

And the day off does not have to be Friday. If desired, you can generally give employees the opportunity to choose any day for the third day off. The main thing is that all new weekends are combined with each other.

Of course, the 4-day work week is not suitable for everyone. An unnormalized graph will remain unnormalized. For the store employees who worked 2/2, nothing will change. But if you have 5/2 employees in your company, there is a reason to think. To make it easier, I have described the advantages and disadvantages of a four-day trip - this will help you clarify the situation and make an informed decision.

Benefits of a four-day work week

The main utility of a four-day trip fits into a simple concept:

Happy worker = productive worker

Plus for you, as an employee, in another weekend, which means additional time for family, recreation and entertainment. With this reward, you start to focus more and work more productively - less interruptions; remove colleagues so that they do not distract, and so on. This is confirmed by the experience of the New Zealand trust company Perpetual Guardian. In 2018, they conducted a six-week experiment, introducing a compressed four-day schedule (that is, 10 working hours a day, with the preservation of wages and no overtime). As part of the experiment, productivity increased by 20%, and employees began to feel better about their work. After the success of the experiment, the company completely switched to a 4-day working week. Later, they found that about 78% of employees (previously there were 54%) learned to balance between work and personal life, productivity increased by another 2%, and stress levels, on the contrary, decreased, despite the fact that they had to work longer during the day.

Another fairly obvious plus for an employee is a reduction in costs. Less commute to the office — less money to spend on good clothes, travel, meals, and that's all.

There is also a benefit for the company in reducing costs:

  • the team spends less time in the office → the company has less overhead;
  • employees do the same amount of work in less time → the company spends less money to get the same result.

Another plus for the company is that with an additional weekend, people have more time to monitor their health, and in general, their emotional state improves. This means that it is not unlikely that employees will take less sick leave and leave. At least, this effect was given by the introduction of the four-day program in the marketing company Pursuit Marketing from Glasgow.

Well, the most unobvious advantage of a four-day working week is that the company becomes more attractive for cool specialists. At one time, it was thanks to this that Henry Ford achieved a rapid increase in productivity in his company — he was the first in the United States to reduce the working day to 8 hours, and the best specialists in the industry reached out to him (yes, then the 8-hour working day was tempting).

Disadvantages of a four-day work week

And everything would be fine…

As I said, the four-day period is not suitable for everyone.

  • The society is accustomed to a five-day working week, which means that many companies are forced to work five days a week to keep up with, say, customers. That is, only the company that can restructure its work processes will be able to switch to a four-day period.
  • In many business sectors, such as e-commerce, they can't just throw away one working day. People expect an online business to work 24/7. Just imagine that Amazon delivers your order not for 1-2 days, but for 2-3 weeks (or months), simply because the logistics specialists have switched to a four-day period. Not really, huh?

If we consider a shortened version of the four-day working week (that is, where 32 hours instead of 40), from the point of view of the employer, this is some kind of muddy scheme. It is rare to find a business owner who is happy to pay employees the same money for less time. And to pay less for a four-day period that you yourself have entered is not comme il faut. Most people work hard, not because they want to, but because they need to. And it seems that with a reduced four-day period, the balance between work and personal life improves, but at the same time, income also decreases, which means that the standard of living falls.

With the compressed version of the four-day work week, too, not everything is smooth. A ten-hour day is a very, very long day. Attempts to constantly be focused and do everything on time, first, are unlikely to be successful, and secondly, they will quickly lead to work fatigue, burnout, depression, and maybe even worse.

And then you can rightly argue: "Stop, but the experience of that New Zealand company…”

Yes, but all of the studies of the compressed four-day workweek were short-term, and it is very difficult to say with certainty what the long-term consequences for workers and businesses will be. It may well be that at first the employees will work really hard and productively. But then such a schedule will become the norm, and they can return to relaxed work again.

And so it goes...

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