The 4-day work week: can it work for your business?
Jul 2022
Employment & HR

The 4-day work week: Can it work for your business?

Sarah Hall
Partner, Employment Law & HR

The world’s largest pilot of a 4-day work week has launched in the UK. The pilot will last six months, with 70 companies and 3,300 workers participating.

The workers taking part will work 80% of their usual hours at 100% productivity while receiving no cuts to their pay.

In this update, we look at some of the pros and cons of the 4-day work week and some key points to consider.

Potential advantages of a four-day work week:

Increased productivity
As employees spend less time in the workplace, the general theory is that they will be more focused during the time they are there and, therefore, more productive. Overworked employees can be less productive and giving staff more time off during the week can mean they will return to work feeling more refreshed and work more efficiently.

Attract and retain quality staff
Particularly since the pandemic, with lockdowns and millions of people switching to remote working, many people are now thinking more about the importance of a work-life balance and more flexibility in their work. A four-day work week could help employers attract and, most importantly, retain the best talent with job satisfaction and company loyalty.

Reduced costs
A four-day work week may result in reduced costs for everyone. If you decide to close your office for the additional day per week, this will result in less running costs. It will also mean the commuting costs for everyone travelling to work will be reduced, again making it an attractive workplace.

Potential disadvantages of a four-day work week:

Will it suit your business model?
While the four-day week may suit many types of businesses well, it might not work for everyone, and this is something employers must consider.

For example, will a four-day work week leave you short-staffed on days workers are not working? Employers will need to assess how they can adapt their business model to suit if they are considering a four-day work week.

Increased stress for employees
While employees are only working 80% of their hours, they will still be required to do 100% of their job to maintain their current workloads. Therefore, employees having fewer days to complete their work might increase work-related stress and impact employee satisfaction.

Taking the wrong approach
In the current pilot scheme, a critical part is ensuring workers are actually doing a four-day work week, and not the same number of hours but in four days. Often a four-day working week can be confused with compressed hours. Compressed hours mean longer days and can ultimately lead to decreased staff productivity and work-life balance. While they are off for three days a week, their working days are much longer.

How can we help?
If you are considering moving to a four-day work week it is essential that the proposed changes are carefully planned in advance, including consulting with your staff and amending your policies and contracts. We can of course assist with this alongside a range of employment law issues.

If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Sarah or call 0191 232 8345.

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