The four-day work week has been a hot topic among businesses and employers in recent years, with two prevailing models emerging. One condenses the standard workweek into four days, granting employees an extra day off. The alternative approach reduces the total weekly work hours while preserving 100% of employees’ current pay.

Across the globe, countries like the UK, Spain, South Africa, Japan, and Canada have been trying out the four-day work week. Belgium even made history in 2022, by becoming the first European country to legally adopt it. While the idea is certainly catching on, the big question remains whether it will become a standard and what consequences impacts this working arrangement will have.

On the positive side, many countries who have trialled a four-day work week have reported many benefits including improved employee wellbeing due to less stress and burnout, benefits for children who are getting to spend more quality time with their parents, together with other interesting results, such as reduced fuel emissions due to less commuting. A number of employers also reported increased productivity among their workforce who appreciate the gesture from their employees, with many going on to say that they are looking to implement the arrangement on a permanent basis.

Employers that have tested the four-day work week have highlighted notable positives, including enhanced employee well-being from reduced stress and burnout, plus family benefits as parents gain extra quality time with children. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are eco-perks too, due to lowered fuel emissions from less commuting. And while less working hours may seem detrimental to overall productivity, many employers have in fact seen the opposite, with their workforce increasing its output. In fact, a significant number of companies who have trialled a four-day work week have expressed their intentions to make it a permanent arrangement.

However, the flip side reveals potential challenges. Longer hours on compressed workdays may not suit everyone, risking fatigue and reduced productivity as some find it hard to sustain focus. Some industries, such as healthcare, will simply not be able to accommodate a shorter

workweek. Further, it could pose issues for client-centric services, with fewer days available for addressing client needs potentially impacting customer satisfaction.

While there are many thoughts and opinions on the matter, the reality is there is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all solution that’s going to work for everyone. But presently, trialling these new work arrangements seems like the most pragmatic path forward. This approach allows companies and employees to assess the actual implications of a four-day work week, observing its impact on productivity, and determining its feasibility within their unique circumstances.

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