Why a four-day work week isn’t the answer


4 or 5 day work week symbol. Turned the cube and changed words '5 day work week' to '4 day work week'. Beautiful orange background. Copy space. Business and 4 or 5 day work week concept.

Flexible working has been on the rise for a while now, and with good reason. Allowing employees to tailor their work schedules to fit their personal needs can lead to increased productivity, lower stress levels, and higher job satisfaction. And as the recent four-day work week trial in the UK has shown, and as BBC News reports, reducing the number of days worked without reducing pay can lead to even more benefits for both employees and employers.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Is setting a four-day work week really that flexible? Sure, it might work for some people, but what about those who need something different? What about the parents who need to work their hours over five days to fit around their children’s school schedules? Or the employees who are most productive in the morning and would prefer to work shorter days? Those with caring responsibilities who would benefit from working in the evenings instead? Or those who find working four days causes heightened stress levels and leaves no time for water cooler style social time with colleagues?

To truly embrace flexible working, it’s important to remember that not everyone’s needs are the same. While the four-day work week might be a great solution for some, others may need a different approach. And that’s okay. The key is to ensure that employees are given the freedom to personalise their approach to work in a way that suits them best.

This could mean offering flexible start and finish times, allowing employees to work from home or other locations, or even introducing job sharing arrangements. What really matters is that the work is done and that employees are happy and productive.

Of course, there will be challenges to implementing more personalised approaches to work. Employers will need to be clear about their expectations and ensure that communication channels remain open. They will also need to be mindful of any potential disparities in workload or availability. But by taking a proactive and open-minded approach, it’s possible to create a working environment that truly works for everyone.

We’ve written before in The Pandemic Revolution blog about new ways of hybrid working in light of the pandemic, and perhaps too that needs to be looked at again. Flexibility isn’t about hybrid working rules of two days here and two there, or the location of where we work at all. Instead, we need to fundamentally change how we think about work and recognise that it’s not the same as it was 25 years ago and that technology has changed what many of us do.

In conclusion, while the four-day work week trial in the UK is certainly an exciting development, it’s important to remember that it’s just one possible solution in a world of flexible working possibilities. By prioritising personalised approaches to work and ensuring that employees have the freedom to shape their own schedules, employers can create a happier, more productive workforce that’s better equipped to handle the demands of the modern workplace.

If employee experience is something you’re looking to tackle in your organisation, we offer consultancy as well as coaching and mentoring that can help to foster strong company culture and drive business objectives.  

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