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Does a 4-day working week really work?
Work less and get paid the same. Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?! Well, that’s the idea that’s currently being trailed by 70 UK-based companies taking part in a LinkedIn research project testing out the sustainability of a 4-day working week. The trail is 6 months long, finishing in November 2022, and at the end participating companies will decide whether to stick with the 4 days or switch back to a traditional 5 day working week. The trial is testing out a 100:80:100 working pattern, 100% of the pay for 80% of the time in exchange for 100% productivity.
So far, the main response from participants has been that it’s ‘genuinely chaotic’ to set up, but people really want it to work and are ‘fighting incredibly hard’ to keep the new schedule going.*
Joe O’Connor is the CEO of 4dayweek.com. He’s pioneering this working pattern transition and believes that one thing the 4 day working week will really help is gender equality in the work place. O’Connor states that something that inspired his passion for the 4 day working week was interviewing public sector workers in Ireland. He found that when many mothers returned to the workplace after their maternity leave ended they reduced their hours, and pay, to 4 days a week at 80% salary. However, the vast majority still believed their productivity was the same, they just worked more efficiently in the time they had. Suggesting that Parkinson’s Law holds true – work tasks will expand to fill the time available for their completion.
However, as the initial LinkedIn study suggests, it’s not always easy to implement. O’Connor argues that for many companies the 4-day working week is already here, it’s just buried under the rubble of wasteful work practices such as a lack of meeting discipline and poor use of technology. He suggests the best way to successfully implement a 4-day working week is from the bottom up; let each team and individual employees work out the changes that need to be made and give them the autonomy to make them. However, of course this does come with its challenges, every team member can’t suddenly work in vastly different ways. It’s important to bear in mind that implementing a 4-day working week is not something managers can enter into half-heartedly, it needs proper planning and investment if it’s going to work.
But if you are prepared to put the time, effort and resources required into making it work a 4-day working week is something that can really make your company stand out from the crowd in a candidate centred recruitment market. Hybrid working is one of the most requested benefits by our candidates and, although we haven’t worked with any companies offering a 4-day working week yet, we have no doubt it would be extremely popular. O’Connor agrees, stating that while the primary issue for a 4-day working week used to be productivity and burnout, now recruitment and retention are the single biggest reasons leaders are attracted to it. He says leaders now need to ask themselves, “is my greatest risk the risk of trying the four-day week and failing, or is it my biggest competitor embracing this new way of working first and reaping the rewards?”
If you’re interested in hearing more about a 4 day working week Joe O’Connor has spoken to ‘Search Engine Journal’ host Loren Baker on the issue, you can listen to the podcast here: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/four-day-work-week-podcast/455537/
*PR executive as quoted by Emma Hudson, Editor at LinkedIn News https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/first-findings-from-4-day-week-trial-5387676/
Quotes and facts from this blog were taken from Search Engine Journals article by Miranda Miller entitled ‘Is The 4-Day Week The Future Of Work? A Q&A With Joe O’Connor’: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/4-day-workweek-joe-oconnor/458498/