Four-Day Work Week – Is It for Us?
The concept of a four-day work week suggests shortening the traditional five-day work week to four days. In such a work model, each employee would have an additional day off each week, which could lead to greater job satisfaction and an improvement in the quality of life.
The Idea of a Four-Day Work Week
This concept appeared in the 1970s, but only recently has it begun to be considered more frequently by employers. Many companies around the world have already implemented this work model, and the people employed by them appreciate having more free time and better time management.
One of the arguments for introducing a four-day work week is to increase efficiency and productivity, motivation, as well as the quality of employees’ lives. With an extra day off each week, people would have more time to rest, engage in extracurricular activities, and spend with family. Ultimately, this could lead to better well-being and greater satisfaction with performed activities.
However, the introduction of a four-day work week is not without its drawbacks. Above all, many employers fear that reduced working hours will actually lead to an increase in employment costs. They would have to hire more employees to ensure the continuity of business operations.
Four-Day Work Week Trials
At the beginning of June 2022, one of the largest experiments to study the impact of a four-day working time on company performance and employee situation started in the UK. It involves 73 companies and 3,300 employees who represent various industries – from salespeople and restaurateurs to corporations. However, many other companies around the world have already tested or implemented a four-day work week. Some of them are:
- Microsoft Japan – in 2019, the company introduced a four-day work week for its employees and noted a 40% increase in efficiency.
- Treehouse – an online training company, introduced a four-day work week in 2015 and has not changed its model since. Employees appreciate having more free time and better time management.
- Perpetual Guardian – a New Zealand financial firm introduced a four-day work week in 2018. It noted an increase in employee satisfaction and productivity and efficiency.
- Basecamp – a company specializing in software for business introduced a four-day work week in 2019. The results of the experiment were clear, employees appreciate having more free time and better time management.
- Google – the company tested a four-day work week in 2018 at its branch in Australia and noted an increase in employee satisfaction and efficiency.
The advantages of a four-day work week primarily include:
- Improved efficiency – studies indicate that people prefer to work more intensively for a shorter period rather than spreading work over a longer time. In a four-day work week model, employees could focus more on their tasks and be more motivated to perform them.
- Improved quality of life for employees – thanks to an extra day off during the week, people would have more time to rest, engage in extracurricular activities, and family. This could lead to better well-being and greater life satisfaction.
- The possibility of increasing employment – introducing shorter working hours could mean that more people would be able to find jobs, as companies would have greater employment opportunities.
- Improved service quality – reducing working hours could lead to better quality of services. Employees would be more rested and motivated.
- The possibility of better time management – a four-day work week would increase the amount of free time. Employees could organize their time better and use it more efficiently.
Also check: Four-Day Work Week – a Recipe for Effective Business in the 21st Century?
Shortening the Work Week – Drawbacks
Increased employment costs – many employers fear that a shorter work week will lead to higher employment costs. They would have to hire more employees to ensure the continuity of business operations.
Difficulties in organizing work – reducing the work time in a week could create difficulties in organizing tasks in the company. Especially in industries where continuity of operation is essential.
Difficulties in adapting to the new model – for some people accustomed to a five-day work week, shortening it to four days could pose difficulties in adapting to the new model. This would require a reorganization of a significant part of the processes in the company by both entrepreneurs and employees. Taking unconventional actions initially would cause some chaos.
Is the Polish labor market ready to move away from a five-day work week?
No change is easy, especially when many would have to occur at once. It is difficult to definitively answer whether the Polish labor market is ready to introduce a four-day work week. A lot depends on the industry in which a company operates and the individual preferences of firms and their employees.
On one hand, introducing such a work model could bring many benefits, such as increased productivity. In the long run, overall development for all interested parties. On the other hand, many companies are not yet ready to work in this model. Their systems and organizational processes are simply not adapted to it.
However, it is worth mentioning that there are already companies in Poland that have introduced a four-day work week or are considering doing so. Perhaps the upcoming years will be a time of change in this area. And the Polish labor market will start to move away from the traditional five-day work week in favor of a four-day work week.
Are there any regulations concerning working hours in Poland?
The Constitution of the Republic of Poland does not contain direct information about a four-day workweek. The Constitution establishes general principles regarding labor law and its protection, but it does not specify particular employment conditions, such as working hours.
The conditions of employment, including the length of the workweek, are determined by statutory laws and agreements made between employers and employees. In Poland, according to the Act on Employees’ Working Time, the workweek cannot last longer than six days; however, there is nothing to prevent a contract from including a shorter workweek, for example, a four-day one.