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Many companies in the UK have chosen to adopt the four day week of working. With the trial in Iceland a few years back showing such success, I am speaking to more and more employers who are opting for shorter weeks. 
 
It is good to review why four day weeks are a good idea. 
 
Many trials have been carried out including one in the UK in 2022. According to People Management, 2900 employees from 61 companies took part in the trial which had some staggering results. 
 
There are two statistics that came off the back of this trial that stand out to me. 
 
1 - 71% of the employees who took part reported a reduced level of burnout. 
 
2 - There was a 65% reduction in the number of sick days taken during this time. 
 
Many of the companies opted to extend the trial with some implementing this way of working permanently. 
 
Although each company implemented the change differently, the model chosen to trial was that employees would work 32 hours a week, over four days. 
 
Although each company implemented the change differently, the model chosen to trial was that employees would work 32 hours a week, over four days. 
 
Whilst the trial appeared to be successful and many more companies are opting for this business model, it is good to consider the pros and cons of whether a four day week is a good idea. 
 

Four day week pros and cons  

Why would a four-day-week not be a good idea? 

It is not for everyone 
 
Firstly, we should establish that this style of working will not suit every business. For example, hospitality or care settings would unlikely be able to maintain a four day week. 
 
This is for a more traditional working setting. For example, an office based environment. 
 
It may increase costs 
 
Depending on your business, it may have an adverse effect on your business finances. For example, if you are in a call centre environment, you would still need the phones manned every day so by reducing the number of days employees work may result in you needing to recruit more staff. 
 
This would potentially defeat the object, so if you were not able to reduce the number of days and still be able to cover the business needs, a four day week would not be a good idea. 
 
It could increase stress levels 
 
Depending on how you choose to implement a four day week into your business, it could have an adverse effect on your employees mental wellbeing. For example, if you choose to condense a five day week into four days, the added pressure may result in it being unsustainable over a long period of time. 

What would make a four-day-week a good idea in your business? 

As much as there are cons to this idea, there are also many pros. I have outlined a few of them below. 
 
Reduced costs 
 
As much as in some circumstances a four day week could potentially increase your costs, it could also help to reduce them. 
 
For example, if you opted to close the business down on a Friday, you would save on electricity bills. 
 
Mental wellbeing 
 
There is an argument based on previous research that a four day week helped with employees mental wellbeing. Many staff reported feeling less stressed and happier in their role. 
 
Depending on how you choose to implement the model, having an extra day off a week can drastically help employees to stay refreshed and avoid burnout. 
 
Environmental impact 
 
Let us not forget that if employees are only travelling to work four days a week instead of five, that could have a dramatic effect on the environment. 
 
With less commuting, there is less traffic and our carbon footprint can drastically decrease. 
 
Reduce sickness levels 
 
During the trial, there was a huge reduction in sickness levels. It stands to reason that if employees are less stressed and less burnt out, then they would not be so inclined to call in sick. 
 
If employees are only working four days per week, they have an extra day of rest meaning they can achieve that all important work life balance easier. 
 
Increased productivity 
 
Perhaps the most important factor is the prospect of employees being more productive. The idea of a four day week is not to decrease the workload but to decrease the amount of time they have to complete it. 
 
It stands to reason that employees will work harder to achieve results quicker if they know they have less time to complete the tasks. 
 
It does appear that there are more pros than cons to this style of working but ultimately, it comes down to your business needs and whether this is a realistic approach for you. 

How can you implement a four day working week? 

That may sound like an obvious question but there are actually several ways to implement a four day working week. It does not mean that your business has to close down entirely on a Friday. 
 
Of course, that is one way to do it but there are several other options. 
 
➡️ Condense working hours 
 
You could choose to condense working hours into four days. For example, if an employee works thirty five hours over five days which equals to seven hours per day, they would now work just under nine hours per day over four days instead. 
 
If you choose this route, you will need to keep a close eye on how employees are coping and whether or not you feel that this number of hours per day is having a negative impact on their wellbeing as well as their role. 
 
➡️Reducing the number of hours at the same rate of pay 
 
You may be inclined to reject this idea, however, consider the fact the productivity levels may increase and sickness levels may decrease. 
 
It may be financially in your favour to pay an employee for thirty five hours a week but only expect them to work twenty eight hours a week. 
 
Remember that their workload will not be decreasing so you would hope to achieve the same, if not a higher level of productivity that could save you money even if you are paying a full time salary. 
 
➡️ Have a rota 
 
Rather than closing the business for one day a week, you could rotate staff numbers throughout the week to ensure you have adequate staffing levels across the full week. 

Summary 

 Implementing a four day week into your business could give you a huge advantage as long as the business needs are met.  It is likely that you will widen your talent pool, allowing you to recruit the right staff into your business.  Since the pandemic, employees are looking for a better work life balance and offering a four day week could be exactly what you need to entice people to apply for roles within your company as well as create loyalty from your existing staff. 

As with everything HR related, it is always a good idea to seek professional advice before implementing any big changes and I am always happy to help should you feel you need it.  
 
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