Four-day workweek – a recipe for effective business in the 21st century?”
Every week we eagerly await Friday. That magical moment when we finally turn off the office phone, swap uncomfortable work clothes for a comfy tracksuit, and forget about daily professional duties, standing in morning traffic jams, and having a cold lunch on the run between meetings for at least two days. But what if we didn’t wait for Friday? What do you say to a four-day workweek? Last year, the British tested it. What conclusions did they draw? Does a four-day workweek really make sense?
“The past few years have brought many changes to the global job market. Total devotion to professional duties is becoming a thing of the past, especially among younger people. Work is becoming an addition to life. We pay more attention to leisure time, devote ourselves to hobbies and interests, and nurture relationships with family and friends. More and more people realize that overtime or weekends spent at work are not the key to success, and can lead to professional burnout or even health problems.
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about so-called work-life balance. It’s a state in which our private and professional lives form a cohesive whole, serving our goals and aligning with our principles and values. In other words, it’s a sort of balance between work and career and everyday life – family life, socializing, entertainment, hobbies, etc.
Interestingly, the concept itself is not new. The idea was born at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, in response to the difficult job market situation in the United Kingdom. Workers, tired of an excess of duties, began to demand a clear separation of professional and private life. Working beyond the standard time clearly affected their engagement, lowered creativity, and reduced efficiency. As a result, employers noted poorer performance. Implementing the idea of work-life balance in life seemed the only right solution to this situation. A solution that would benefit both sides.
In the modern world, the concept of work-life balance is realized in many ways. Employers offer their employees a range of benefits to help them maintain excellent well-being, good physical and mental condition, and avoid adverse professional burnout. More often in recruitment ads, we find information about private medical care, sports cards, the privilege of using psychological and psychotherapeutic counseling at the company’s expense, the possibility of bringing a dog to the office, or so-called workation.
Does the 4-day workweek also fit into this idea? Experts in the United Kingdom decided to check it out!
Test of the Four-Day Workweek in the United Kingdom
The test of the four-day workweek commenced in June 2022. It involved 3,300 employees from over 70 British companies across various industries – retail, restaurant, and even corporate. The premise of the test is the 100-80-100 model, which implies that employees receive 100% of their salary for 80% of the work time, in return for providing 100% of their commitment. In other words, companies participating in the study agreed to provide employees with one additional day off per week, without changing their salary. The aim of the study is to check whether the extra day off positively impacts employees – reducing stress levels, decreasing the risk of professional burnout, increasing job and life satisfaction, improving health, sleep, etc.
The process is overseen by the think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and scientists from Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College.
Interestingly, the United Kingdom is not the first country to conduct such an experiment. Earlier, it was conducted in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. The positive results of these tests prompted UK experts to conduct their own research. According to the initiators, this is the largest experiment to date examining the impact of reduced working hours on corporate outcomes. What has been determined so far?
What are the initial conclusions?
Three months into the pilot program, a study was conducted that showed half of the companies enthusiastically evaluated their participation in the test. As reported by “Forbes,” as many as 35 out of 73 companies declared that they are very likely to permanently implement the 4-day workweek model after the experiment ends. Reducing the number of working hours per week did not negatively impact employee productivity and efficiency. On the contrary. Some companies confirm that employees achieve more, which in the long term can translate into visible effects for the entire enterprise.
Interesting conclusions were drawn by experts from Boston College. It turned out that employees who switched to a 32-hour workweek slept almost an entire hour longer each day than when they worked 40 hours a week. There was also a significant decrease in the number of people who were sleep-deprived. With 5 days of work per week, nearly every second person (42.6%) felt unrested. Reducing working hours lowered this percentage to 14.5%. Good sleep translated into the well-being of the employees. Well-rested teams worked more efficiently and achieved better results.
“4-Day Workweek – A Solution for 21st Century Business?
The four-day workweek fits perfectly into the idea of work-life balance. Implementing such a policy in a company can bring benefits to many aspects of life. A huge advantage is increasing team productivity. A greater number of working hours does not mean that the team will complete more tasks. Rested and relaxed employees are more efficient. Such individuals usually do not lack motivation to act. They are focused on tasks and creative. As a result, they work more effectively and experience greater satisfaction from their professional duties. This, in turn, translates into better customer experiences and real profits for the company.
A four-day workweek is a guarantee of good well-being! Maintaining a balance between professional and private life means that employees are less stressed and feel better. The hours saved can be devoted to their passions and developing family and social relationships. Moreover, they have time for physical activity, which is necessary to maintain full health and strength. A rested employee is a good employee!
An employer who offers 4 days of work instead of 5 is better perceived by their team. It is easier for them to gain the trust and loyalty of employees. Additionally, they present themselves well in the job market, thereby attracting outstanding candidates who can bring a lot of good to the company. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that treats its employees well?
The well-being and efficiency of the team can translate into the productivity of the company. A motivated team executes all its duties with the utmost precision, easily achieving set goals and succeeding. This ensures the company’s continuous development, helps it gain and maintain a competitive edge, and guarantees attractive profits. Implementing a four-day workweek can be an excellent investment not only in a happier workforce but in the entire enterprise!
Four-Day Workweek in Poland?
A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that Poles are the 7th most overworked nation among the 35 OECD countries. It is estimated that the average Pole works over 1900 hours annually. Is there a chance that we will start working less? The experiment of a four-day workweek was recently mentioned by the leader of the Civic Coalition, Donald Tusk. Some time ago, a project by the Left reached the Sejm proposing to reduce the workweek from 40 to 35 hours, without loss of salary.
We may have to wait for potential changes, but it’s certainly worth not abandoning this idea. Tests conducted in the United Kingdom have yielded positive results. The twentieth-century concept of a five-day workweek is slowly becoming outdated. Modern business requires modern solutions! Will a 4-day workweek become the standard? Time will tell!