In 2018, the Trades Union Congress of the UK proposed a four-day work week with the same pay, campaigning for a better work-life balance for everyone.
What is a 4-Day Work Week?
A normal employee works for a company for more or less forty (40) hours a week, eight (8) hours a day for five days, usually from Monday to Friday. In contrast to this, another work arrangement has been present for other companies which are called a compressed work schedule. It is a work schedule arrangement that requires workers to still work for forty (40) hours, but instead of the usual set-up, workers would only report to work for 4 days a week, but with a ten (10) hours a day schedule. This diverts from the cultural norm. The 5-day work week has been the usual practice since the 1900s.
However, another work schedule was proposed by the TUC which is called a 4-day work week. This is different from the compressed schedule, although the four-day work week arrangement may be for four days, the work hours stay the same per day. Meaning, 8-hour shifts for four days and 3-day weekends for everyone.
Would this work arrangement be beneficial for all countries to adopt? Is this beneficial for both companies and employees?
What are the benefits of a 4-Day Work Week?
Throughout the globe, there is a significant percentage of people that are unemployed. This proposed arrangement also aims to significantly decrease this number and provide more jobs by decreasing the number of scheduled slots. Fewer days for each worker means more days for other people to work. A logical analysis that can definitely alleviate this problem.
This arrangement, along with the same pay with fewer hours, would provide workers with much-needed leisure time and recreational activities. Improving the work-life balance of presumably an already stressful week. The campaign emphasized the rest that workers would gain from this arrangement, and hoped that by reducing the days of work and fewer people commuting from their homes to offices, it may also reduce the pollution that everyday vehicles emit, significantly reducing the world’s carbon footprint.
The majority of people see this arrangement as an improvement but there are also a select few that are opposed to this idea, read more about opinions on this subject on lordping.co.uk. The campaign focuses on the productivity of each worker, saying that more rest can equal more productive individuals. A study conducted by Perpetual Guardian, suggests that a 4 day work week improved job satisfaction, teamwork and work/life balance of workers all by maintaining the same level of productivity.
Are company profits affected? Are there cons to this setup?
Although some advantages might outweigh the disadvantages, the disadvantages are still worth talking about. Private companies are responsible for how their operation hours are scheduled, whether it is a business that operates only during business hours, or whether the company needs to be operational for 24 hours a day.
A four-hour work week might provide difficulties in terms of shift patterns for employees. Since the average employee has already been accustomed to going to work from Monday to Friday, reducing a day would be a major paradigm shift for the company, whether it be deciding that the business will only be open for 4 days or whether which employees can cover for the 5th day of the week. Another thing is that not all days are equally busy, it can be challenging to decide which 3 days of the week would be the rest day for each employee. Being overstaffed and understaffed can provide negative effects on whatever business.
It is important to fully inform employees of what truly the arrangement is. Some employees might be surprised by the sudden change of schedule or might not be accustomed to the said arrangement. Thorough and careful planning is needed that can consume time is imperative to making this arrangement work. Depending on the nature of work, the employees might be both happy for the extra rest time or stressed with how much work they need to fit in within the four days.
There are also businesses that are built on the recreation of others that might be overlooked by the proposal of this arrangement. More rest days mean more people going to other places for recreation, and with these places being understaffed, it might just be a problem being passed from one line of business to another.
Some natures of work might consider this as a win-win situation but not all companies might agree. The proposal is for an employee to work for fewer hours for the same salary and it would definitely be an expensive cut to the company’s profits.
Given that the overhaul of rules that most people and employers are accustomed to might be difficult and would most definitely have issues, because of the advancement of technology and automation, eventually, this proposal just might work. With technology and automation getting cheaper and cheaper as time goes by, systems might not even need humans to operate them anymore. Using AI-powered systems and bots, customer service and inquiries might just solve the problems of customers on their own.
Is it a good move to switch to this arrangement?
With the current climate and technology, it might work for some companies but not all. As years pass by, and as automation improves, people might see the four-day work week be the norm. But pre-pandemic, recent opening of companies, and the world slowly turning back to normal as it was before, changing the status quo might not yet be the smartest move. Employees need to build back relationships they lost, teamwork that was set aside, and office morale that was stagnant for years because of the pandemic. The good thing about this though is that if ever that day happens and the norm becomes this said arrangement, there are a lot of workers that are adaptable and versatile enough to embrace the change. There might be some difficulties in terms of operations at first but seeing people becoming versatile and technology making life easier, faster, and more convenient. The four-day work week might be a reality in the next few years.