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The four-Day Work Week: Benefits and Things to Consider

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​From a recruitment perspective, we can’t think of anything more likely to promote a vacancy to potential candidates than the line “we operate a four-day week policy”. With a full extra day away from work, without any reduction in pay, the four-day work week has long been coveted by workers in all industries across the UK - but what are the benefits for businesses? And could a four-day work week really work in the long run?

The concept is set to be trialled across 30 British companies later in 2022, running from June to December in a 6-month trial which will see employees changing their work habits to fit a week’s worth of work activity into four days.

But what could this look like in your company?

What changes might a four-day work week pose?

On one hand, a four-day work week could mean just that - a reduced working week, giving your employees an extra weekend day. Another option, being embraced by some businesses, is the idea of the fifth day being somewhat flexible - where employees can choose to take the day for themselves, immerse themselves in a solo work project, or socialise with each other outside of the office. Crucially, if you select the latter then this fifth day comes without pressure, and with no expectations being held for any employees.

For business owners and the management team, this extra day presents an opportunity to step back from the day to day of running the business and focus instead on your overarching goals. From recruitment to strategy training, businesses can and are using this extra day to finetune plans for the future, giving themselves more structure and a cohesive way of working.

The Benefits of a four-day work week

Aside from making your recruitment package highly attractive to potential new candidates and employees, a four-day work week presents a multitude of benefits.

· Boost to morale across employees at all levels.

· Greater flexibility in their work schedule.

· Better relationships inside and outside of work.

· More time spent with family, leading to a healthier work-life balance.

· A feeling that employees are trusted to complete their own work according to their own timeline.

· A better handle on work pressures, with employees handling situations in a calmer and more balanced way.

While the benefits of a four-day work week are clear, one key question we need to pose is this: is it something that can work across all industries, or is this concept one which is restricted in the businesses it can impact and support?

Take the world of hospitality for example, or marketing. Hospitality work and marketing work are very different in some ways, and yet the demand on consistency is very much the same. Marketing is always required, as are hospitality team members. In fact, many of the businesses trialing the four-day work week scheme are simply looking to their internal marketing employees to manage their own demands and time while implementing the new working structure - giving them more to do across less time.

And so, can we really create a four-day work week concept in the UK when only some businesses and employees can benefit from it? This is where the things to consider come into play.

Things to consider

The simple fact is that the workload for employees is not decreasing, and so they need to find ways of fitting that same schedule of work into a shorter working week.

The chances of a four-day work week increasing productivity across those four days are high but are unlikely to reach every corner of your business. So, what can you do to support all employees and ensure that every department is getting the support it needs?

· Consider the value of a four-day work week as a benefit to recruitment - but also highlight the expectations of the role and be realistic in workload.

· Make sure that each team leader or manager is adequately assessing the productivity of each individual in their team.

· Consider the rigidity of the four in-office or working days. Does a four-day work week mean that you no longer give employees the same flexibility of booking appointments etc on the four days they are working?

· How does the four-day work week change when you have time-sensitive projects on the go?

· How can your business assess the impact and benefits of the four-day work week?

And finally, to a simple question. Is the four-day work week about boosting productivity, or is it more about wellbeing? And can the two go together hand in hand, or is this new working structure more about one over the other?

If your business is considering the four-day work week, we’d love to hear from you!