Discovering the 4-Day Work Week: Unlocking the Advantages of a Flexible Working Arrangement

Discovering the 4-Day Work Week: Unlocking the Advantages of a Flexible Working Arrangement

In recent years, discussions surrounding employee satisfaction and productivity have prompted employers and companies to try new working models, such as the 4-day work week, one of the latest trends. The Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, has intensified the debates about work-life balance and flexibility, spurring an increasing number of employees and labor unions to request a change in work culture. Several companies and countries have recently trialed the 4-day work week, which has been proven to be beneficial for both employers and employees. Let’s discover more in detail what the 4-day work week is and what role it could play in the work-life landscape.

Framing the 4-day work week

The 4-day work week can be defined as a working arrangement where employees work 4 days a week, instead of the traditional 5-day schedule. Even though employees have an additional day off, the pay and the amount of work remain unchanged. While some companies decide to keep the same amount of hours of a regular work week and distribute them across 4 days, others prefer to reduce the overall amount of hours from 40 to 32. According to Tech.co, this model is called “100-80-100”: employees receive 100% of their salary, work for 80% of their hours, and are committed to being 100% productive.

Pros & Cons

Several companies trialing the 4-day work week have disclosed gaining numerous benefits from implementing this working arrangement. Reducing the work week by one day is reported to increase employees’ satisfaction and productivity. Employees are more focused on their tasks and motivated to carry them out on time. Another relevant advantage of the 4-day work week is the reduction of absenteeism. Having an additional day off allows employees to better balance their work and private life. Therefore, they are able to better schedule their personal necessities that would often require them to stay at home from work, as TriNet points out. The improvement of work-life balance also entails a reduction in stress and a general improvement of mental and physical health.

The 4-day work week has also brought advantages to employers and companies adopting the model. According to a Henley Business School poll, 51% of the businesses interviewed disclosed saving up costs. Reducing the work week to four days allows companies to cut energy and amenity costs, and positively impacts the environment as employees reduce their commute emissions. This new model is also reported to increase employee retention and therefore decrease employee turnover. Companies that embrace the 4-day work week tend to be more attractive for the younger generations of workers, who increasingly prefer flexible working arrangements.

Even though the benefits may be numerous, the 4-day work week may not be a good fit for all companies. Certain businesses require employees to work the whole week in order to provide full coverage and customer assistance. Implementing different shifts and schedules for employees may not be possible for all companies, which may not have the necessary resources to make such logistical changes. Moreover, as mentioned by Celayix, the 4-day work week may be costly for some enterprises. Certain job roles may demand more hours than the ones envisaged by the 4-day work week; this may lead to potential overtime hours that would be paid by the company.

Trialing the 4-day work week: global experiences

As the 4-day work week gains ground, several countries and companies across the globe have trialed this new model. In 2022, 61 British companies participated in a 4-day week pilot organized by the research organization Autonomy. According to the report published by the organization, 51% of the companies that took part in the trial have permanently adopted the model, while 89% are still applying it one year later. Belgium has become the first European country to legislate the 4-day work week, Euronews states. The law came into force in November 2023 and allows workers to choose to work either 4 or 5 days a week. The multinational company Unilever is now trialing the 4-day work week in New Zealand, along with other companies in Spain, Scotland, and South Africa.

What about the Czech Republic?

Discussions about the 4-day workweek have also broken out in the Czech Republic. According to a survey conducted by the consulting group Moore, almost half of Czech workers would strongly agree to switch to this working arrangement, while 28% would be in favor. Trials have already been conducted in the country, though not government-led. Expats.cz makes the example of the digital marketing company Sherpas. The Prague-based company embraced the working model for a pilot experiment in 2019 and disclosed recording positive benefits, such as employee satisfaction and enhanced performance.

Although the idea of implementing this model is met with enthusiasm, many believe that the Czech Republic is not ready to adapt it at a nation-wide level. The country’s labor shortage and the predominant focus of Czech businesses on manufacturing pose significant challenges to its widespread adoption.

The future of the 4-day work week

Exploring the 4-day work week gives interesting insights into the future of the work-life landscape. From increased productivity to higher employee retention rates, this new working arrangement seems to gain momentum among companies across the world. While it may not be the perfect model for certain businesses, the 4-day work week is likely to positively shape the future of work culture thanks to its many benefits.

If you think the 4-day work week is the perfect fit for you but your company does not plan to adopt it soon, you can consider becoming a freelancer or starting your own business. Working as a freelancer or as a business owner allows you to fully enjoy the benefits of a short work week, such as personally overseeing your schedule and managing your time according to your preferences. While self-employment may be a challenging leap, it is a rewarding choice that gives you the possibility to prioritize what matters the most to you and craft your own career accordingly.

Our coworking space is home to numerous freelancers and entrepreneurs who thrive in a productive and collaborative environment. Try out our coworking space and become part of an international community, ready to help you out in navigating your journey as a self-employed worker!

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