By Nevelee Shekhar and Sreelakshmi Nair | Edited by Atiyah Krishnan and Ruth D’Souza
What can a four-day work week lead to? More productivity and reduced costs. A four-day work week means employees would work four days rather than the traditional five, and instead of following the nine-hour work day, they will work around 11-12 hours. This conversion has been rekindled ever since the COVID-19 pandemic came around. The employee’s work and wages remain the same, however, the hours are increased, reimagining the significance of benefits and flexibility in the workplace. Technological developments are being made in order to make this shift possible for us in the future, increasing workplace efficiency. A three-day weekend leads to not only employee satisfaction but also decreases stress levels in employees.
A four-day work week leads to employee satisfaction. Working four days a week will eventually lead to fewer meetings and more time for independent work for the employees to grow and develop. The work-life balance will also reduce employees’ stress levels and increase worker satisfaction and, eventually, the company’s productivity as a whole. The employees will save more on traveling costs, in turn helping the environment and reducing the carbon footprint.
Professor Paul Samuelson, in 1970 noted that the four-day workweek was a ‘momentous social invention.’ Though the classic five day work week gets the most labor out of the workers, it was invented when ‘factory work’ was the norm and the five-day work week was an ideal situation. However, it should be noted that as technology evolves and the population increases, the official law that more hours is more productive should be scrapped, and businesses should look for value rather than volume. Stanford University recently conducted research on the hours worked and productivity. They found two principal reasons why overworking leads to a decrease in total output. Firstly, the employees get overworked and become less efficient due to fatigue and stress. Secondly, after a couple of hours, an employee may be so fatigued that the additional work done by them would eventually lead to oversights which may take longer to fix than the original work.
So why is a four-day workweek better for the economy? Numerous companies all over the globe are introducing a four-day workweek, leading to benefits for all types of people, from engineers to corporate workers to lawyers. Due to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, stronger retention and lowered overhead, a four-day workweek benefits the overall business. A more pliable working plan is a perk in the modern time to persuade the employees to stay in the company. 63% of businesses globally found it easier to retain employees after introducing the four-day workweek. The new work-life balance paves the way for keeping employees engaged in the company and retaining them for longer. 78% of employees now manage their work better than 54% before the introduction of this new experiment. Along with this, it will also protect employees from the likelihood of automation, reducing the chances of technological unemployment.
As mentioned before, as employees will now have more leisure time on their hands, it will lead to entrepreneurship and innovation, ultimately leading to the betterment of society as a whole. Research has shown that people with the four-day workweek work towards volunteering, engaging in local and global issues and the growth of small businesses. A four-day workweek will also lead to gender equality. Caretakers, especially female will eventually benefit from this, as a reduced schedule will lead to more flexibility and equitability. Sharing the benefits of economic growth with society will also lead to less polarization and can avoid catastrophic economic policies such as Brexit. This will also lead to the stimulation of the economy through tourism and hospitality. It will lead to spending money in our free time on leisure activities. The world will open up to tourism and other roads of entertainment. Another way to stimulate society is by generating revenue as well as employability.
Additionally, the four-day workweek also helps the ecological balance of the environment. Due to shortening the work week, reduced commutes are leading to a reduction of the global carbon footprint. The United States, one of the significant generators of carbon footprint, will reduce emissions by 45 million metric tons. Also, as families have more leisure time, they will become more environmentally conscious and have more time to make ecologically sound choices. Along with this, large office buildings will also function four days instead of five, leading to less consumption of resources such as electricity and will lead to less pollution as well. Therefore, reduced days could lead to better environmental conditions with fewer pollutants, helping the ecological balance.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based company, is one of the prime examples of how a four-day workweek benefits everyone. It has brought about productivity, high business standards and met customer demands. The work-life balance has increased workers’ efficiency and improved individuals’ overall mental health. The extra ‘rest day’ helps them recuperate and enhance their ability at work, along with refining their other skills in their newfound free time.
The 4-day work week has become an increasingly popular arrangement among employers, allowing employees to enjoy more leisure time while still getting their work done.On the surface, a shorter work week may seem appealing and beneficial for both employees and organizations, but it is important to understand the cons associated with such a shift in order to make an informed decision about whether this type of arrangement will really benefit everyone involved.
First off, many jobs cannot simply be condensed into four days without compromising on quality or service – essential services can suffer significantly if there are not enough available staff. Furthermore, companies would need to consider additional health and safety regulations due to longer shifts being imposed on workers on any one day so that all tasks could be completed within just four days per week. It can also leave little margin for error during key operational processes when mistakes could have greater consequences as there is less time available over fewer days than before.This will take a toll on the overall productivity of the company causing far more damage in the long run.
Employees may feel less stressed, take fewer sick days, and be healthier when working a four day work week. However, there are problems with creating new schedules, employees may not have enough time to complete their duties, and the benefits may not outweigh the cons for some businesses. A true four day workweek means that employees are still expected to work a full 40 hours, but condensed into four days instead of five. This means that employees must work 10 hours in a single day and often have more meetings, which can leave employees feeling exhausted.Additionally, research shows that some organizations have tried the idea of the four day weeks and seen little to no results. Research has shown that working longer hours can lead to decreased productivity, and so having a 4-day workweek may not be beneficial for some businesses. The cons of the 4-day work week are that it might require longer hours on those working days, cutting down on rest and relaxation time. This could lead to potential burnout if the employee is unable to meet their deadlines. The need for employees to cover the same amount of hours in a shorter amount of time can also lead to an increase in shift scheduling, which can cause further issues such as cramming more work into a few days.
A 4-day work week doesn’t necessarily increase productivity, instead it leaves a reduced time period for squeezing in the same workload. Employees will therefore be expected to increase the level of their output per hour significantly. This is due to the fact that the total GDP will fall when there is a reduction in individual work by 20%. Japan reduced the workweek from 46 to 30 hours in 1988. Productivity did not rise sufficiently to compensate, and economic output was 20% lower between 1988 and 1996 than it would have been otherwise.
Moreover, shorter working weeks may actually place additional strain on organizations that are highly dependent on the discretionary income spent within their industry — hospitality businesses saw huge declines after the start of the pandemic, providing concrete evidence as to how some industries are feeling impacted by the substantial disruption, even when partially reopening — thereby pushing entrepreneurs to take creative new routes instead of looking to old-school solutions such as drastically changing the hours each day as potential options. However, most companies are struggling financially, so ideas about maintaining a higher productivity rate coupled with normal levels of expenditures are less than ideal under pragmatic minimum operating costs models. This would result in large scale restructuring demands following adoption leading to changes to core worker contract terms.
Although some companies say their employees are happier and more satisfied with fewer working days, there is evidence that this is not necessarily true for all companies. According to a study conducted by Henley Business School, only 70% of employees felt more satisfaction in their company’s commitment when taking a 4 day working week. Therefore, there may be some discrepancies between employers and employees in terms of feeling their satisfaction with less time at work. In conclusion, while a 4 day work week can certainly improve employee satisfaction and help companies take fewer sick days, it may not be suitable for all employers and employees alike.
This conclusively means introducing a 4-day work week is challenging into the pre-existing system of management. It’s a subject of debate among workers, businesses, and economists, as some are convinced that this arrangement is beneficial, while others have their doubts. On one hand, a 4-day work week could help workers achieve a better balance between their professional and personal lives, and help companies cut costs and increase productivity. On the other hand, it could lead to less job security, increased stress, and a lack of job satisfaction. Therefore it is important to understand the cons associated with such a shift in order to make an informed decision about whether this type of arrangement will really benefit everyone involved.
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