Flexible working has become an increasingly common practise in light of the pandemic. However, this is starting to be offered by some companies in the method of having a four-day working week.
There are concerns that employers will struggle to cut down working days for employees without reducing pay, in some instances the solution to this seems to be longer hours during working days. BBC News recently spoke to an online bank where employees are now allowed to have either Monday or Friday off, with longer working hours during the four days they have remaining. They claim that working 9-5 Monday to Friday is old fashioned and unnecessary.
This is becoming an international concept, with Unilever trialling a four-day week at their New Zealand offices in 2020. As well as this, The Spanish Government previously announced that Spain would experiment with a trial four-day workweek, which includes 32-hours over the course of four days week. The current larger trail in the world, in Iceland ran between 2015 and 2019 and was hailed as an “overwhelming success”. Meanwhile, a trial ran at Microsoft in Japan, saw 40% productivity increase according to researchers.
The UK has been one of the latest countries to join in with launching a four-day working week trial to test whether employees are more productive with longer weekends. Around 30 UK companies are taking part in a six-month trial of a four-day week, where employees will be paid the same amount as if they were working their usual five days.
Arguments for a four-day working week include the idea that it will boost employee well-being, morale, and productivity levels. Another reason that many people are considering the four-day work week knowing that it is better for the environment as there is one day less of commuting. However, challenges for employers around payments arise, can and how would the transition occur from moving people working 5 days a week to 4 with no loss of pay and what about those already working four days or fewer, who may end up on less than pay their colleagues whose hours have reduced?
During the 1930’s there was the shift from the six-day working week, to five-day due to the popularity of the concept of a two-day weekend. Are we about to see another shift in working patterns occur?
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