Maxwell Stephens

Why the 4 Day Work Week is Gaining New Momentum

Improving Productivity

A study in 2019 by Microsoft Japan found that changing to a four, rather than five, day workweek led to a 40% increase in productivity. Across multiple studies, the results show boosted productivity and happiness levels. This is because employees are working smarter, not harder. It is clear that working fewer hours  will amount to less stress, due to employees having more downtime to spend with friends and family. Taking this step away from the working environment will allow workers to recharge and mentally prepare for their return to work. As a result of this, employee performance is likely to be significantly better. Having a workforce that are better prepared for the tasks at hand, will ultimately see the tasks being completed to a higher level. On top of this, staff whom are discontented tend to distract co-workers or do not fully concentrate on tasks at hand. In theory, with a shorter working week, employees will be more fulfilled and thus more focused on their job when actually in the workplace.

Improving employee wellbeing

According to the mental health charity Mind, 1 in 6 people experience mental health problems throughout any given week. Having the opportunity over a longer weekend to spend time with friends and family or doing things that they love will naturally lead to improvements in well-being. Furthermore, having an extra opportunity for a lie-in will see employees feeling more recharged and rested. Dr Sohere Roked stated that the four day working week offers employees the chance to work on themselves and set well-being goals or enable them to pursue lifelong ambitions. A survey from Henley Business School published the following statistics gathered from studying the short working week:

  • 2/3 of business found improved productivity
  • 78% said staff were happier
  • 70 % said staff were less stressed
  • 62% took fewer days off ill
  • 63% said that it helped them to attract/ retain workers
  • 40% of employees used the extra day to develop professional skills
  • 25% used the extra day to volunteers
Candidate is salary orientated

Reducing costs

Switching to a four day working week instantly eliminates 20% of variable costs such as energy or electricity consumption. Fewer office supplies will be used due to this change so machinery such as printers or computers will deteriorate slower. Less work will result in less dirt or damage so fewer cleaning and maintenance staff are required.

Working in a pressure cooker…

Employees are expected to complete the same amount of work but in fewer days, this could ultimately result in an added pressure and stress to complete tasks to the same standard. An interesting study actually asked employees questions about the 4 day working week at the time of the change and then 25 months later. Almost all of the improvements which were initially found, had disappeared.  This suggests that the benefits of a 4 day working week are only relevant in the shorter term. The shorter working week can also be exposed to the Hawthorne effect in which employees claim that the 4 day working week is beneficial simply because it a new system and they disregard and potential drawbacks of the change.

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