Pros & Cons of the 4-day Work Week in the U.K.

October 5, 2023

The famous proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” emphasises the pitfalls of being a workaholic. Most of us realise the importance of balancing work commitments with leisure activities, thus achieving the ideal work-life balance. Most offices worldwide stick to a 5-day workweek, leaving the weekend for relaxation. It is a […]

The famous proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” emphasises the pitfalls of being a workaholic. Most of us realise the importance of balancing work commitments with leisure activities, thus achieving the ideal work-life balance. Most offices worldwide stick to a 5-day workweek, leaving the weekend for relaxation. It is a way to recharge yourself so you are ready to tackle the workload next week.

Relaxation is essential for employee productivity. In 2018, an entrepreneur from New Zealand, Andrew Barnes, introduced the innovative concept of a 4-day workweek to boost productivity and employee well-being in the working space. Since then, trials have been conducted in the USA, UK, Australia, Spain, and Canada. 

From June to December 2022, over 60 UK companies tested the four-day workweek. Here’s a summary of the results:

  • Over 90% of participating businesses have opted to keep the four-day workweek, with 18 adopting it permanently.
  • Sick days came down by 65%, and 71% reduced burnout levels were reported without  altering business revenue.
  • Job stress dropped by 39%, and job satisfaction rose by 48%

This fresh concept of a four-day workweek may sound enticing to employees as it promises more leisure time. However, it raises crucial questions about its feasibility and potential consequences. This blog will explore the pros and cons of a 4-day workweek in the UK.

PRO’s of 4-Day Workweek in the UK

Pros

Description

Improved Work-Life Balance

Employees get extra hours to invest in family, hobbies, and leisure, fostering a healthier work-life balance. This helps lower stress levels, improve mental and emotional well-being, and increase job satisfaction. Lesser workdays can benefit employees and employers because employees return to work refreshed and motivated, increasing productivity.  

Productivity Boost

After a four-day workweek, when employees get a three-day weekend, they can spend that time in rest and rejuvenation. A well-rested mind and body can engage better at work, and be more productive. This work structure can hugely impact productivity by fostering greater focus and efficiency, and lowering work-related stress.

Health Benefits

Fewer working days can reduce stress, improve sleep, and positively impact physical health. As employees take fewer sick leaves, employers also have to spend less on healthcare.

Environmental Benefits

During the trial period in the UK, there was a 21% reduction in the number of miles travelled by a car. When people have to show up at work only four days in a week, it leads to less environmental damage. There will be lower traffic congestion which will lead to lesser carbon emissions. This strategy aligns with the UK’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Also, less energy will be consumed, reducing the carbon footprints of employees.

Attraction & Retention of Talent

A four-day workweek makes a working space more appealing to potential employees. It also enhances employee retention. Having this competitive edge in the job market can encourage a more diverse workforce and reduce attrition rates.

 CONs of 4-Day Workweek in the UK

Con’s

Description

Reduced Work Hours

A four-day workweek can improve work-life balance, but can also lower overall productivity. According to this model, employees have fewer working hours to complete their tasks. So, quality may be compromised in the rush of meeting deadlines. As a result, employers may have to hire additional staff to compensate for the lag at work, which will eventually increase costs.

Operational Challenges

A four-day work structure may only benefit some industries. Certain industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and other emergency services require continuous operations, and will find it challenging to meet this schedule.

Impact on Business Operations

Businesses that operate on a global scale may find it challenging to coordinate with international partners and clients if there is a significant time difference in work hours. This model could affect trade and communication.

Salary Adjustments

With fewer working hours,  salaries might be reduced. Studies suggest that with a four-day workweek in rental office space or elsewhere, there will be a 20-25% reduction in working hours, which will affect the earnings of employees.

Increased Workload

Meeting deadlines and maintaining high-quality work in a four-day workweek will always be challenging. That’s because the working hours may be reduced, but not the work. Thus, stress levels may rise, decreasing work efficiency and job satisfaction. 

With the increase in stress-related health issues, environmental degradation, and high energy consumption, implementing a 4-day workweek sounds like an excellent plan. However, the implementation of a 4-day workweek in private offices raises concerns about the impact on business operations. In a nutshell, the success of a 4-day workweek in the UK will depend on factors like industry specifics, job roles, and the ability of businesses to adapt to this new paradigm. Hence, careful consideration and planning are essential to maximise the potential benefits while addressing the associated drawbacks.

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