A four-day work week is an idea that’s been floated many times over the years. We all love a bank holiday weekend, after all. But is it a practical alternative to the traditional Monday to Friday routine we’ve been following for so long?
Recent research by Currys PC World looking at productivity in the workplace revealed that 70% of British businesses allow their employees to work remotely. This demonstrates workplaces are becoming more flexible. So, if employees can choose where they work, should the same stand for when they work?
Tech developments should make it a real possibility
The reason that working remotely is becoming more and more feasible for businesses is the technology available to us. It makes it easier for us to communicate and stay connected while out of the office – even if we’re in another country. And this same technology could also help us to get work done quicker and more efficiently, reducing the amount of time we’re required to be on the job.
According to tech expert and futurist, Theo Priestley, “current advances in technology will lead us to work more collaboratively and remotely. This is the ultimate goal for a four-day working week; for technology to enable productivity gains, in order to achieve the same amount of work in a shorter period. Employers can then give that time back to the employee to explore their creative side, spend more time with family and learn new skills outside of the workplace.”
That said, according to the study, while 59% of British workers have been provided with the necessary equipment to work from home, 1 in 10 say it is unreliable. What’s more, outdated tech in the workplace can cause so many delays that 48% of people regularly work extra hours to make up the time. With this in mind, is a four-day week unrealistic?
It could boost productivity
In a recent YouGov survey, 63% of Britons expressed support for a four-day week and it’s easy to see why. Not only does offering employees an improved work-life balance mean more time to unwind and do the things they enjoy, it can also have a positive impact on mental and physical health.
The benefits don’t sit solely with the employees, however. When the workforce is better-rested and happier – which they probably would be with more free time – they’re likely to be more productive and focused on the job when they are at work. You could say a three-day weekend is a pretty good incentive to get work done quickly and efficiently throughout the week.
It can reduce our carbon footprint
By shortening our work week, it could cut down on the amount of power used by a business. Just think about the amount of energy a large office building uses every day, thanks to lighting, computers, kitchen appliances and more. Not only that, but employees would be commuting one day less a week, which has the potential to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads.
And this increased consideration of the environment could benefit a company when it comes to hiring too, according to Priestley. “Workers are now seeking to work for organisations seen to be adopting a green and sustainable agenda within their mission statements,” he explains. “and remote working [or a reduced work week] is seen to be a positive step in supporting those goals.”
Things to consider
The reality is there’s a lot to be considered before the UK can adopt a four-day work week nationally. For starters, it’s possible it would only work for certain industries and roles. Take teachers for example. Would schools have to drop down to a four-day week too, so the staff can reduce their hours? And as for customer service, businesses are likely to leave customers feeling frustrated if there’s nobody in the office to respond to them on certain days. But arguably, AI technology has already been implemented widely to assist with “out of hours” assistance.
So, could a four-day work week be the future? For the time being, it seems the best approach is to consider it on a case-by-case basis. If you’re a business that already works on a flexible basis, it could well be something that would work for you. The only way to find out is to run a trial for a few months. Your employees would probably thank you for it!