Is a full office 4-day week the answer to hybrid working disagreements?

The hybrid working debate: is a full office-based 4-day week the answer to the remote vs office working battle?

Over one-third of employers agree they’d be more open to a four-day week if staff spent the whole time in the office, meanwhile over one-third of UK workers say they would quit their job if they were told to return to the office full-time. So what is the way forward?

The 4-Day Week

Research has shown that just over one-third of employers would be more open to a four-day week if staff spent the whole time in the office.

As well as this, 62% of working professionals would choose to work a four-day week in the office over working five days on a hybrid working pattern.

This conversation comes about after, a 4-day work week trial ran last year which involved companies paying their employees for a 5-day week in return for the promise by the workforce to maintain or improve productivity levels across 4 days. This aimed to help motivate employees to be productive in return for a better work-life balance by having an extra day off during the week.

The study produced varying results, with some businesses choosing to keep the 4-day working model going forward. However other businesses found this didn’t work out for them and have since reverted back to a 5-day week upon realising a 4-day model did not work for their business models or industry.

Businesses Demanding a Return to the Office

Hybrid working has also been a particularly popular method of working ever since the Covid19 pandemic happened. However, in recent months there has been a bigger shift on people returning to the office.

Remote work has its benefits, with people gaining a better work-life balance with less time spent commuting to and from the office, as well as saving money on fuel costs. However, many have pointed out the blurred lines of work vs home when working remotely, reporting that it’s difficult to separate your work-life from your home-life when they’re in the same place. As well as having the opportunity to bounce ideas off your colleagues in a more collaborative environment.

However, employers have a different outlook, with businesses being keen to get people back in the office. Lloyds Banking Group have called for people to return to the office, at least 2 days per week and have implemented a clock-in/ clock-out system in order to monitor this.

Businesses including Disney, KPMG, Twitter, Amazon and many more have also tightened down with hybrid working roles, demanding more time needs to be spent in the office. However, more than a third of UK workers would quit if they were told to return to the office full-time, perhaps showing the divide between employers and employees, is a 4-day office week the solution to this divide? Or is maintaining a 5-day hybrid model the way to go?

What is the Compromise?

New data has shown that the demand for fully remote roles has risen by 21% after analysing 310,000 job searches between January and March 2023. Many people are keen for a ‘Work from Anywhere’ (WFA) jobs as summer approaches, but with employers looking to get people back into the office, there are a lack of these jobs available.

It’s clear that employee and employer preferences are differing in many ways as LinkedIn found that demand for remote roles was outstripping supply in the UK. Remote roles received more than a fifth (22%) of job applications in February. Yet almost half (49%) of company leaders in the UK and abroad have said they would prefer their employees to work more frequently from the office.

It seems there needs to be some form of compromise to satisfy both employees and employers. Are office weeks vs remote weeks the way to go? Perhaps the 4-Day work week but entirely from the office, or the current popular hybrid option with balanced office and remote time.