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The four-day work week – a new trend for 2020

Throughout 2020 HR Elite will be keeping you up to date with HR trends which can be implemented, observed or encourage productivity and the way your business works. Flexible working has...

Throughout 2020 HR Elite will be keeping you up to date with HR trends which can be implemented, observed or encourage productivity and the way your business works. Flexible working has been given a fair amount of press lately, we have written a few blogs too (read our latest blog HERE). Our recent blog shows the benefits of working flexibly, not just for the worker, but for the business too. The new trend that has seen impressive results in other countries like Japan, Sweden and Finland is the ‘4-day work week’.


What is the ‘4-day work week?

The name speaks for itself, but in HR terms – it is a compressed work schedule. It looks to compete against the normal 5-day work week and show how working less days can actually increase efficiency and the quality of work produced. The usual 4 days are Monday to Thursday to allow for a longer weekend to destress and create a more balanced work/home life. However, the day should be chosen to suit the Company.

What are the benefits?

A more engaged and happier employee will most likely produce a better quality of work. The trials in other countries have shown a decrease of sick days and a desire to stay with the Company providing this type of benefit. Employee wellbeing is more important to Companies than it has ever been – a longer time at home will create a less stressful environment (in theory) and the employee will return to work happier.

There are also reduced costs from both sides. From the Company’s side there will be reduced overheads, from the employees side their commuting costs will be reduced and also other expenses like buying lunch and coffees.

Recruiting for a 4-day week will entice a wide range of employees seeking out flexible working opportunities. The motivation behind a 4-day week will retain staff and keep them engaged in their job role.

What are the drawbacks?

Cutting a 5-day week down to a 4-day can cause stress for some types of job roles. If a job is more client/project work with a deadline, fitting 5 days’ worth of work into 4 days can be a huge strain. This would be unsuitable and other flexible working should be considered if it suits the job role. Employees may be inclined to work over their allotted hours to finish the work leading to longer work days. This could lead to work related stress and long-term absence from work.

Would it harm the business? Closing for one extra day per week may do more harm than good, but this depends on the company and the clients needs. If you are a relatively small company and you can provide an out of hours emergency line – the benefits of advocating a 4-day week will outweigh the drawbacks.

It is interesting to note, a popular question when discussing a 4-day week is will annual leave entitlement change? Well, this depends. If you reduce the day’s you work but work the same hours your statutory holiday allowance wont change. The allowance will only change if the number of working hours is reduced.

Is a 4-day week right for your business?

It is not a one size fits all model, it can be amended and changed to fit the business needs. Small businesses will more likely be able to implement these changes as opposed to a large nationwide Company, but introducing flexible working opportunities can show your staff that change can happen and you are open to changes to suit the employees as well as the business.

If you have any questions regarding flexible working, email us on or call our offices on 01206 700 690.