Category: Advice

The 4 day working week - will this work in practice?

The 4 days working week – will this ever work in practice?

Starting earlier in June, a handful of UK companies began the 4-day week pilot programme. This pilot sees a 6-month trial where over 70 businesses and more than 3,300 workers reduce working hours from 5 days to 4 while maintaining the same salary and work output.  In theory, it’s the perfect solution.  Employees benefit from working one less day and getting more time off, leading to a better work/life balance.  Employers should also a benefit by seeing increased productivity during the 4 days to ensure work output remains the same.   It is based on the 100:80:100 model – 100% of salary for 80% of the time worked, whilst committing to maintain 100% of productivity.  This could benefit employees, companies and of course the climate and researchers following the trial will be following all impacts carefully over the next 6 months.

However, will the 4 day working week ever work in practice? After just one week of trials, there are already some growing concerns from MDs and CEOs across the country.

Trust Plays A Key Factor

A lot of the business owners taking part in this pilot have realised that trust plays a key factor if this is to be successful. Of course, the theory suggests that reducing working hours can boost productivity by preventing staff from burning out. However, this only works if you can trust your staff to put in the extra effort required over 4 days to match the output of 5.

A Potentially Elitist Working Model

Could a 4-day working be seen as elitist?  While this isn’t the intention, a report from the Social Market Foundation last year discovered that those who are more advanced in their careers are more likely to benefit from this model.  People who are high earners and in more senior roles are going to see more benefits than those lower down the pay scale when working a shorter week.

Of course, we still need to see the full trial before we can back this up with substantial evidence.

A Troubling Economic Climate

In addition, there are worries relating to the present economy. Obviously, we’d all love to work fewer hours, but is this really a good idea in the current economic climate? Many businesses depend on having people working 5 days a week. Switching to 4 could be economically damaging, particularly in the first few weeks or months of making the change.

In Conclusion

Overall, the 4-day working week sounds really impressive, but is it actually going to work? Right now, it feels as though there are some pretty big barriers stopping it from being as effective as it could be. But, this trial has only just begun. Who knows, in 6 months’ time, many of the problems could be ironed out as companies and employees get used to the new work schedule.

For now, we will have to wait and see.

Hiring the right talent for a 4-day working week is critical. As a business owner you will need to  hire individuals that are committed to making this model a success at all levels.    As an Executive Search Recruiter specialising in the Publishing, BPO and the Financial Services industries, we’re in a strong position to help companies find top talent for senior-level roles. Whether you are switching to 4 days a week or sticking to 5, it’s crucial that you have people aboard your company that can make a positive impact – we will help you find them!   Use our contact page here, we’d love to hear from you.


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