Many employers are now trialling four-day working weeks because they believe it provides a better work-life balance to staff members. Reduced working hours is a dream come true to some, but there are some downsides associated with a four-day working week that job applicants should also consider. This article considers the pros and cons of a four-day week for employees and its impact on their work-life balance.
Pros of a Four Day Working Week
There is evidence to prove that four-day working weeks provide many benefits for employers. Perpetual Guardian has trialled the scheme in New Zealand on 250 of their staff. The firm gave its employees the option to work four eight-hour days while still getting paid for five. After the experiment, the company reported no downsides to the scheme.
Below we consider some of the pros associated with a shorter workweek:
It stands to reason that employers offering a four day work week will benefit by attracting the most talented employees to their job vacancies. However, this will also help the company’s existing workforce by filling the company with awesome people to work with.
The knock-on effect could be improved mental health throughout the entire business. Who wouldn’t want to work in a happier work environment?
A four-day working week can also be hugely motivational for existing employees who take advantage of reduced hours or compressed hours while being paid the same salary.
Being paid the same to work fewer hours can be a real motivating factor in getting jobs done on time. You might think we would be less productive as we no longer have that extra day in the week to tidy up our loose ends. In reality, employers found the opposite to be true; one less day, in fact, motivates us to manage our time more effectively.
The result is more time to spend with family, and effective time management may even mean that we spend less time working over our allocated hours.
Companies who have trialled the four-day week have found that their employees are more likely to work harder to retain this benefit.
Fewer Sick Days
Leaders who have adopted a four-day working week have reported that their team take 62% fewer sick days. Giving staff more days off during the week gives them more time to schedule life admin such as doctors or dentist appointments without taking time off work.
Companies have also reported a reduced carbon footprint when their workforce spends less time at the office, which will undoubtedly contribute to the planet’s health and employees. It will be interesting to see the global impact once more employers adopt a four-day working week.
Microsoft has also experimented with a four-day working week in Japan. The software giant found that those who had a four-day working week had an increased productivity rate of 40% and printed 59% fewer pages.
More productive employees may seem like a benefit for employers rather than employees. Although imagine the sense of satisfaction you would feel upon completing your workload in four days instead of five.
Moreover, slick time management skills can help take your career to new heights as it is always something hiring managers look for.
Shorter working weeks can also lead to less stress and, therefore, less burnout.
We all know how it feels to be so exhausted at the end of a tough week that we find ourselves lamenting on the sofa without even having the energy to enjoy a few drinks with friends?
Two days in a weekend leaves us barely enough time to recover before we’re back at our desks on Monday morning. By shortening the working week, employers can reduce staff burnout, and employees have way more time to focus on the things that truly matter to them.
Cons of a Four Day Working Week
Even though the benefits of a four-day working week speak for themselves, it is imperative to know that there are some cons associated with it. If you want to learn more about them, keep reading.
Sure, everyone loves the idea of having a three day weekend. That said, as an employee, you may find that you need to really push yourself during the four days that you do work. Having to pick up the pace will undoubtedly force some workers out of their comfort zone, which may lead to higher stress levels.
Shorter working weeks can also add more tasks to our schedules. Managers will have to schedule more meetings to keep tabs on their team. Client contracts will have shorter deadlines, and sometimes, staff won’t be available to complete the work required. All of the above may exacerbate the pressure people are under, which may result in individuals working longer hours.
Not Suited to Everyone
Some jobs are suited to a four-day working week, but this is not the case for every role. The company’s front-liners may not have the luxury of being able to adapt to a three day weekend, but office workers might. The disparity can be a pain point for employers and may also cause resentment among workers.
Employees may also face unexpected expenses like extra food shopping or higher energy bills because they spend more time at home. They may also feel that they are losing out on professional development by being at home rather than office-based.
A Few Final Thoughts on the Four Day Work Week
Of course, a four day week can work in some scenarios, but it does not suit all job roles.
Flexible work does come with its benefits, but at the same time, the four day week campaign and an extra day at the weekend do come with their cons. So before applying for a job advertising a four-day working week, it’s essential to understand both sides to get a complete idea of how it could benefit you.
The idea of the four-day working week is that it benefits employees and employers. However, every employer will have their own interpretation of what the four day week means to them, which may throw a new set of pros and cons into the mix.
While individuals may like the idea of swapping their full-time work schedule for a reduced hours work pattern, they may not like the compromises they may have to make on their terms and conditions.
Finally, job applicants should be careful that they are applying for a genuine four-day working week opportunity if that’s what they want. Phrases like pro-rata indicate that the advertised salary is for someone working five days. Still, the employer will adjust the successful candidate’s salary for working only four days per week.
After reading this article, you may be tempted to look for a new job working four days a week instead of five. If so, why not check out our latest jobs?