The UK is launching a four-day workweek trial from June to December 2022 (a six-month period where participating employees will see no loss of pay.
It has also been reported that 30 UK businesses had already started a trial of four-day weeks from January 2022.
But is it a practicable proposition for your business?
The results of the trials that have been carried out so far in other countries have shown that it improves workers’ quality of life, giving them more time for other priorities.
They have also, so far, shown that there was no loss of productivity and in some cases businesses have increased sales, reduced absences from illness and improved employee retention.
There is also an argument that the system could have environmental benefits from reduced commuting and traffic congestion.
However, it is questionable whether the four-day week can be applied in all businesses, not only because of the primary consideration of their customer’s needs but also because of the nature of the business.
According to the website Investopedia “it may not be possible to increase productivity enough in service or logistics jobs to achieve the same results in fewer hours just by working smarter. There’s a physical limit to how many items Amazon Warehouse employees can pick per hour or how many delivery locations a UPS driver can hit in a day.”
This is echoed in research carried out by the Henley Business School, which found that 82% of employers “believe ensuring employees are available to the customer outweighs the need for flexible working practices” and 73% felt it would be difficult to implement logistically.
Clearly, any business considering introducing a four-day working week will have to consider the implications carefully and be prepared to make radical changes to their business practices and ways of thinking.
Investopedia lists strategic changes businesses may have to make. These are just some of them.
They would have to prioritise and re-evaluate tasks, minimise interruptions and distractions, increase automation, limit work-based social events, reduce and shorten meetings, define clear goals that are achievable within a shorter workweek and measure outcomes, not hours.
It will be interesting to see how businesses react once the various proposed trials have been completed but it is already clear that there will be no “one size fits all” solution.