Have you ever considered how a four-day work week might transform your workplace? Perhaps you're already offering something similar in the form of a flexible work strategy. Or maybe you're skeptical about whether a four-day work week could really work for your business. Either way, we've got you covered. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of a four-day work week.
Pros and Cons of A Four Day Work Week: Why It Matters
Whether you've thought about them or not, flexible or compressed schedules are a hot trend. Over 60 percent of workers are currently enjoying flexible work arrangements, and the number is expected to grow as more employers recognize their benefits.
Moving to a four-day work week can help your business attract more employees. What's more, the workers you already have on payroll will be less likely to seek greener pastures. There are numerous other benefits to this model as well, which we'll explore more in the next section.
Pros and Cons of A Four Day Work Week: Breaking It Down
Exploring the Pros
First, let's take a look at the ways in which a three-day weekend—or an extra day off in the middle of the week—could benefit your organization as a whole.
As we mentioned, a compressed work week will make your company look more attractive—both to your current employees and potential recruits. If you're trying to attract more workers, this could be the way to do it.
What's more, when you offer this benefit, your workers will be more inclined to give 100 percent when they're on the job. The additional time away from the office will allow them to recharge, and they'll be willing to do all that they can to earn or maintain the shorter work week.
If you're worried that the reduction in days might be a turn-off for customers and vendors, you could consider working a 4-day x 10-hour work week with variable days off. In other words, some staff would be off on Mondays, while others are off on Fridays.
If you're only open for business four days a week, you'll save on utilities and other ancillary costs. Of the companies that have implemented a shorter workweek, over half have claimed that the practice is saving them money in the long run.
In addition to saving on power bills, you can expect to go through fewer office supplies. This can result in impressive net savings over the course of a year.
Studies have shown that employees are less likely to use sick days when they have a shorter workweek. With that small improvement to their work-life balance, they're less likely to experience stress, which can contribute to ill health.
Of course, some workers might cash in on sick time in order to get errands done during the week. When they only have to work four days, they can use that extra weekday to focus on those matters. Therefore, they'll be ready to commit themselves fully to their work tasks upon their return, thereby increasing productivity.
There are other creative ways to improve productivity. For example, let’s say you need new content for your website. Instead of spending countless hours creating something from scratch, you should consider repurposing content, which will save lots of time and effort. And, you can use the same approach with your social media channels.
When you allow your employees increased time off or the option of working remotely, you're letting them know that you trust them to get the job done even when you're not breathing down their necks. This can work wonders for employee morale.
Saving The Environment
By adopting this business model, you won't just be giving your workers an extra day off—you'll be contributing to the well-being of the entire planet.
For one thing, the commuters will spend less time on the road. While they're sure to appreciate the money they'll save on gas, the reduced carbon footprint is an even greater benefit.
On a similar note, you'll save on energy by keeping the lights and other utilities from working overtime. When you consider that this equals an energy reduction of 20 percent, it's easy to see how the benefits add up.
Many people—women especially—opt to stay out of the workforce when they have families, mainly due to high childcare costs. That extra day could go a long way toward creating a better work-life balance for them—and a more balanced workforce for your company.
Understanding the Cons
There are two sides to every story, and a shorter work week might not be the best fit for your business. In this section, we'll talk about the downside of allowing your employees to work a four-day week.
If you want to offer a three-day weekend while still maintaining regular business hours, you'll have reduced coverage on Fridays and Mondays. That can put a lot of pressure on the employees who are scheduled to work on those days.
You can get around this by shutting down entirely on either Friday or Monday, but this won't work for all companies. What's more, it's not ideal if you want to continue to offer employees the opportunity to work a full 40 hours.
Some workers might be willing to take their extra day in the middle of the week. That would make scheduling easier, but it could lead to hostility if any of the employees become unhappy with the arrangement.
When one or more employees are unavailable on certain days, it makes it difficult to schedule meetings, workshops, or brainstorming sessions. As a result, the workplace can feel more uneven and less like the nerve center of a powerful team.
Reduced Work Levels
Although productivity may rise when you adopt this model, there's always the chance that it will go in the other direction. If your team members aren't mature or committed enough to the job, the reduced hours might encourage them to spend more time goofing off.
If you suspect this might be the case for your business, consider offering four-day workweeks only to employees who've earned the right. This will encourage the stragglers to step up while rewarding those who are worthy of your trust.
Increased Labor Costs
If your workers are paid at an hourly rate, you may be required to pay them overtime if they work 40 hours in a four-day work week. This might not be an issue for salaried workers, but compressing 40 hours a week into four days could have repercussions, depending on the laws in your home state.
Remember that if the employee can fulfill their duties in four days instead of five, you're not losing anything in terms of performance. If they aren't getting the job done due to the reduced hours but are still being paid the same amount, you're probably overpaying them.
Pros and Cons of A Four Day Work Week: The Bottom Line
Only you can decide whether reducing the working hours for your employees can benefit your bottom line—and the quality of life for the workers themselves.
It's one thing to offer employees the chance to spend more time at home. Making the system work for everyone involved is a more complicated matter. Think carefully before deciding to make four-day workweeks a part of your business model.
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