The tireless search to enhance the productivity of employees has led companies to opt for various strategies, including the reduction of working days.
Today, many companies are open to flexible hours to boost productivity, but are still hesitant when it comes to four-day workweeks. However, this is a trend that is gaining more and more followers within the business world and some companies in countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, among others; are already adopting.
Today we will talk about this type of work, its pros and cons.
The four-day work week is a relatively new idea. In Japan, it began as an experiment, when Microsoft decided in 2019 to offer its employees the opportunity to work from Monday to Thursday for a month, and without reducing their salary. According to the World Economic Forum, 92% of the company's employees took up the challenge. The results were better than expected: an increase in sales by 40%, reduction in electricity consumption by 23% and printing on paper by 59%.
Separately, Iceland ran a similar experiment between 2015 and 2019. More than 2,500 people at 100 workplaces took part in two government-backed trials; which represents approximately 1% of the country's working-age population.
In both cases, perceived stress and burnout, as well as health and work-life balance, improved significantly in all groups. Contrary to claims that working reduced hours could be counterproductive and opt for staff to work longer, the results suggest that, in general, there was no loss of productivity or quality of service provided.
Similarly, something similar happened in the United States. The specialized cybersecurity company Signifyd launched a pilot program in 2021 for talent to work four days a week. The result: 75% sales growth and less burnout.
Although this project has been studied for years, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many more companies in different countries to consider this option. Since the appearance of the virus, new forms of work have been developed that, like everything in life, do not please everyone. There are those who opt for remote work, and on the other hand there are those who do not believe in this work scheme; there are also those who implemented the hybrid work model and those who discovered that by working fewer hours per week could achieve higher levels of productivity.
However, whatever your preferred work modality is, there is an undeniable reality: excess of work negatively impacts companies; it reduces productivity, increases absenteeism and the risk of contracting chronic and heart diseases, among others. This, without a doubt, is something that companies must tackle and to do so there are different methods, the 4-day workweek being one of them.
Pros and cons
The first thing to keep in mind when analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of this work scheme is its conditions. Talking about a 4-day work week sounds good, but does this mean that weekly working hours are reduced or, on the contrary, compressed into fewer days per week? Will workers' wages be affected?... and like these, there are so many other questions or scenarios for analysis. In this sense, the pros and cons that we show here are very generic, since everything is subjected to the conditions established by reducing the number of days worked per week.
So let's start with the pros:
- Productivity: companies that have already adopted the four-day workweek highlight increased employee productivity as the main benefit. This translates into greater optimization of time and better management of meetings, but also in a reduction in absenteeism, since professionals usually take advantage of the additional day off to carry out those personal procedures they need.
- Balance: some of the companies that are experimenting with the four-day work week highlight that their employees especially value the opportunity it offers them to achieve a better balance between their professional and personal lives, by having more free time to dedicate to their family , friends or their own well-being and rest.
- Talent retention: only a few organizations have dared to implement short work weeks, so they are receiving a lot of media attention and this has a positive impact on their ability to attract and retain talent. In sectors where there is a significant mismatch between supply and demand for professionals, these types of initiatives could make a difference and boost brand image.
- Workload: one of the questions that arise when we talk about reducing the workweek is the impact it will have on the organization of the collaborators. Could concentrating the same volume of work in fewer days lead to greater stress for professionals? That is what some experts consider, who also believe that many employees would be forced to extend their working days in order to fulfill all their professional commitments and have an additional day off.
- Profitability: many of the experts who position themselves against the four-day work week argue that its implementation would have a negative impact on the profitability of organizations and, therefore, on their profit margin, making companies not sustainable in the long run.
- Feasibility: there are sectors or companies in which, due to their activity, it is more feasible to concentrate the working day than in others. Among the latter, we find some such as the Hospitality Industry, in which it is not possible to carry out the same work in less time or those companies that serve customers and must offer high availability of their equipment. In these cases, the need to establish shift systems would notably complicate this measure while forcing the company to duplicate its work team.
At e·Saurio, we are convinced that the balance between work and personal life is fundamental. We ensure at all times that the members of our team feel relaxed and motivated both to achieve our goals and theirs on a professional level. Our way of working is remote and without a doubt gives us many benefits, but the one we value the most is to be able to access great professionals in different countries, which makes us today a solid, innovative company capable of offering our clients 100% functional solutions that are robust and aesthetic as well.
Whether the 4-day work week is viable or not will be seen to the extent that results are obtained, but one thing that is 100% certain is that a happy, relaxed and motivated team is the key to success. Let us know yout thoughts on it.
If you liked this article, subscribe to our blog.
Remember that you can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as @esauriook
On LinkedIn as e•Saurio