We’re on a major journey when it comes to the way we work. Serious discussions around a 4-day working week have been coming for a while, but now it’s a prominent trend.
As a working parent and an employer, I can see both sides of the argument. I’m keen to know from you – are you for or against?
The Pursuit of Work—Life Balance
I’ve been in recruitment for c. 15 years and conversations around flexibility of work – especially working from home – have been around for a long time. Well before Covid. The last few years have just elevated and enabled it.
The idea of the four-day working week has cropped up every now and again. But, based on current trends and conversations, I suspect it’s going the way of working from home and will end up as a norm for many.
Flexibility around home working and the idea of a 4-day week usually come in pursuit of a better work-life balance. The perception that a 4-day week is an extra day off / a long weekend is not what it ought to be. When people work in pursuit of better balance, that’s when you will get increased productivity, getting through the same volume of work in a different timeframe – working smarter.
Outcomes Not Hours
When we talk about a four-day working week, we are not talking about reduced pay. And that’s a challenge for businesses to get their heads around. But, employees are still going to deliver exactly what they were hired to deliver. So long as companies can judge on outcomes-based performance, there shouldn’t be an issue. Whether the expected work is done in four or five days is immaterial, so long as it’s delivered.
This becomes much more complicated when your business needs a person present. Service industries, for example, or call centres and healthcare.
But, I believe it is going to happen, so businesses will have to adapt and prepare themselves for it. Just look at working from home. I know I was initially unsettled at the prospect of all my staff working remotely! It’s been far less problematic than I anticipated.
We’ve very quickly reached the position where our candidates simply expect working from home flexibility. Now, we have already begun discussions with companies around 4-day week flexibility. Flash forward and I’m sure we will see that as part of our standard negotiating.
My feeling is that companies who are absolutely unable to offer it might well have issues with their overall employee value proposition (EVP) when you unpack it.
Feel Good Thursday & Fairness
I have personally experienced how spending more time at home can make for healthier, happier families. The value of that is immeasurable.
When it comes to a 4-day week, one of my reservations is what that does to the traditional ‘casual’ day of the week? Does Thursday become the new Friday? It boils down to how a 4-day week is positioned, received and the level of maturity of the workforce.
Essentially, if you get through your work, that’s what counts; at Arrows, you’re only measured against your output.
There does also need to be a sense of fairness across the entire business. In some cases, there are now 4-day countries which makes this easier. Even Japan, renowned for some of the longest hours in the world, is trialling it.
There may be a cost factor where you’ll have to hire in someone to fill gaps. But, if you will end up with a better workforce in terms of health and happiness – well, a happy workforce is a more productive workforce and that’s the logic.
What’s your opinion on the 4-day week? Are you in support or against it as a company norm? Get in touch and let me know.
Michael Cooks – Director