A four-day workweek sounds great, but it is not for everybody. Work-life balance has always been tough to manage. However, a growing concern for workers' rights, combined with the power of technology, has resulted in a fundamental change. Specific sectors no longer necessitate as much working time, and the global trend is toward a four-day workweek.
The concept of a four-day week has gained support in the commercial and political realms in the past few years. Since working has altered dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some might be resorting to the four-day week as a remedy for lockdowns, unemployment, and other issues.
What is it?
The average full-time workweek in the United States is eight hours each day, five days per week. You still work 40 hours each week when you transition to a four-day workweek, but you work 10 hours each day for four days. You are not required to get everyone to work for four days per week; you can decide based on the employee preferences and company needs.
The additional off does not have to be scheduled on a Monday or Friday for the employee to have a three-day weekend—though your workforce may choose this layout over all others. You can select any day according to the needs of the business and the preferences of your employees.
What happens to the pay?
A four-day workweek that still totals 40 hours would not affect payments for salaried or exempt employees. On the other hand, a four-day workweek can be difficult for non-exempt employees entitled to overtime. Overtime standards differ from state to state. Therefore companies with satellite offices or remote workers must verify that a four-day workweek does not subject them to overtime compensation.
Overtime pay is given to employees who work more than eight hours in a single day in California and some other states. So, on a four-day workweek in California, a non-exempt individual would earn 32 hours of straight pay and eight hours of overtime per week.
Pros and Cons
Employees were highly committed to reaching performance objectives, according to reports, with the bonus of an extra day off. This encouragement pushed employees to develop better work methods and squander less of their work time, not to mention boost their morale. Managers also said employees were more dynamic, had higher attendance, more punctual, and did not leave early or go over their scheduled breaks.
The study appears to provide proof for what many people previously suspected: productivity is impacted by more than just time. Employee mindset also plays a role. The four-day workweek is becoming increasingly common. It's easy to see why: workers earn an extra day off, and employers have a more relaxed, revitalized team. However, the benefits extend beyond those aspects, and we must carefully examine the downsides.
To make up for the missed day, productivity at work increases. A New Zealand-based corporation performed a four-day workweek pilot study. Workers maintained the same productivity level and improved in work performance, collaboration, work/life balance, and company commitment. Employees also reported decreased stress, with a drop from 45 percent to 38 percent. The findings of this study are not surprising given that some of the world's most productive countries, such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, work roughly 27 hours per week on average – the same hours advocated for a four-day workweek in the UK. In another experiment, productivity increased by 40% when Microsoft Japan tried a four-day workweek in 2019.
Reduce time away from work
When individuals have an extra day off, they are more inclined to manage health visits or grocery shopping on their day off. Allowing employees to take care of personal matters once a week implies they will devote minimal time to them during work.
Minimize carbon footprint
Countries with shortened work time often have a lower carbon footprint, thus lowering our workweek from 5 to 4 days could also improve the environment. A four-day workweek significantly reduces each employee's carbon footprint by eliminating commuting emissions.
Enhance employee engagement
Workers are less likely to be anxious or take sick leave since they have sufficient time to breathe and rejuvenate. As a consequence, they come back to work feeling energized and capable of handling new challenges. Happy employees relate better to their tasks and are more motivated and creative since they have less tension and a better work-life harmony.
Decrease unemployment rate
Companies can cover open hours with new hires under the concept of job sharing by employing several workers to fill regular one-person slots. Furthermore, employees, particularly younger workers, place a premium on job flexibility. According to a recent survey, when evaluating job options, Gen Z-ers prioritize flexibility over medical benefits.
Impact on customer service satisfaction
Customers and clients realize that workers will not answer to concerns that come outside of usual business hours. Still, when an issue comes up during a regular workday, it's a different situation. To resolve weekday difficulties, someone from the company must be present, ensuring that all departments are adequately covered each day can necessitate careful planning and forecasting. Using technologies such as chatbots could improve customer service satisfaction by providing clients with another assistance route rather than depending on office-based employees.
Not fit for all industries
Some sectors demand a 24-hour availability or other such arrangements, rendering a four-day workweek unfeasible. Furthermore, industries such as office real estate thrive from people being at work in ways that are not transferable to what the employees do on their days off.
Working longer hours
A 10-hour shift is long, and not every employee is up for it. Furthermore, working more than 10 hours a day has been demonstrated to be detrimental to employee health. Another survey in the Netherlands found that 1.5 million people wanted to work additional hours but couldn't.
We will then need to make some critical decisions about the future of work and how to best safeguard and support the well-being of employees. A four-day workweek is one viable alternative since technology would allow businesses to continue operating as usual. At the same time, employees could still have fulfilling careers with a better work/life balance. While we wait to see how things play out, now is an excellent time to start exploring. If you're intrigued by a reduced-hour workweek, try it out for a limited amount of time at your organization to see if your team can do much more by working less.