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The Pros and Cons of Moving to a 4 Day Working Week     

09 November 2022    |    By: Nathan Bentley
In the UK, there's been a lot of discussion about moving to a 4 day working week, with a number of UK organisations now participating in the world’s biggest trial.

The trial is a co-ordinated 6 month pilot for a 4 day working week, with no loss of pay for employees. It’s supported by several organisations such as 4 Day Week Global and the 4 Day Week Campaign.

You may have even considered making this change yourself. But what's it like in practice? The pros and cons of working four days instead of five could make all the difference between a successful change or one that just leaves you feeling exhausted and frustrated.

  • It's cheaper to run. Business overheads and running costs are reduced, if the business is closed for one extra day a week that could be a potential 20% saving.
  • Less energy costs. The less information and services you need to send out, the less electricity will be needed to power them up and keep them running efficiently - this means that your carbon footprint will be significantly reduced when working fewer days a week.
  • Less commuting and less expenses, such as lunch and coffees could help your employees save too, meaning more money in their pockets.

When people are happier, they are more productive.

This is a simple concept, but it's worth stating that the inverse is also true: when people are unhappy and unproductive, their work suffers. The same can be said for creativity and innovation—the more motivated we feel about our jobs, the more likely we are to try new things that make us better at our jobs.

One study showed that after only three months on a four-day schedule, employees were less stressed than before they switched over. This is because the additional non-working day allowed the freedom to invest in other personal interests like spending time with family and friends, exercise or hobbies—activities that have been shown time and again to reduce stress levels and improve overall mental health.

Moving to a 4-day working week can have some really positive effects on your life as it promotes a better work life balance, you’ll be less stressed than before and this means you won’t suffer burnout as often. In addition, employers also reap the benefits from a well-rested and recovered workforce.
Promoting a 4 day working week can be seen as a huge employee benefit which could help increase engagement and when attracting new talent to your business and retaining existing employees. 

Assuming that you're going to take this new schedule seriously and try to make it work, there are a couple of things you'll need to do in order to succeed:

  • Get into a routine. You'll have four days rather than five, so you need to get used to your new schedule quickly.
  • Be disciplined and organised. Working less hours overall means that you will need to prioritise effectivley to ensure you are able to meet deadlines and stay on top of your to-do-list.
  • Go through your business priorities and allocate time to achieve each of them, so that every day feels more productive. if you take control over how much effort does into each task then none will go wasted on something frivolous like social media scrolling too much instead of focusing on more important stuff.

Working four days a week might sound appealing, but the reality is that it may not give you the flexibility you were hoping for. Your work may not be more manageable or easier to fit into your life; instead, it will just be different. And if you're one of those people who works from home or otherwise has flexible hours, then working to a more strict schedule for the four days might actually make things harder for you.

If something comes up in your personal life—a doctor's appointment, family gathering or other obligation—then working one day less per week will give you fewer opportunities to work from home and make up the hours later on in the month.

Although a 4 day week means you are working less hours your workload may have not  decreased to reflect this and so you may feel the added pressure of needing to increase your overall hourly work output.

If you work a 9 to 5 job, then you’re probably spending half of your waking hours at work. That means that if you want to do anything else with the other half of your day, such as spend time with friends and family, it will probably have to be squeezed in around your working hours.

The 4-day working week has been hailed as one way of reducing the number of hours we all spend chained to our desks. If implemented properly, this could mean that we have more free time on offer after work so we can spend more time doing what matters most: spending time with our families and friends and pursuing hobbies.

Moving to a four day working week is a big decision and it's not right for every business. But if you're looking to improve employee retention, job satisfaction and productivity, then it could be something worth considering.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
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