Business & Economy What’s bad about the 4-day work week

What’s bad about the 4-day work week

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The 4-day work week still causes a buzz of excitement among many an employee especially after companies were forced to adopt a work from home model during the pandemic. The allure of the four day work week seems stronger and easier to police than five days of working from home.

The attraction mainly being longer weekends and a better work-life balance. Studies show that workers in Iceland who work four days a week reported more productivity and a positive attitude at work. Similarly in New Zealand those who worked four days were 20% more productive than those who worked a full-day work week.

It’s not all hunky-dory however as employers worry about time and productivity. For employees it feels like the same amount of work condensed into shorter hours with tighter deadlines causing higher levels of stress.

To be more time efficient some companies have tried cutting down on meeting time in order to adopt this model, however this backfired as employees were less engaged as there was no social interaction.

The most obvious drawback for employers is the risk should workers fail to meet their work requirements. This was glaringly evident during Sweden’s two-year trial that reduced a 40-hour work week to 30 hours while continuing a five-day structure. Although there was higher worker satisfaction, it was too costly to uphold.

Additionally not all industries can uphold a four day work week as some require a 24/7 hour presence making it impractical.

Another study in Netherlands revealed that 1.5 million people wanted to work more hours but were unable to.

Another huge disadvantage could be the widening of existing inequalities between knowledge workers and flexible or manual workers who are usually paid based on the time they spend working.

In addition a huge challenge would be managing multiple teams on a four day week especially if the business runs 24/7. If these employees days off are scattered, it can be difficult to set up team meetings and manage projects. Employees may also feel pressured to log in on their days off so they don’t miss out on anything important.

That said if the current trend continues, it’s likely the advent of the four-day work week isn’t too far off. However in consumer societies which emphasize constant growth such as in the United States this may backfire as the mentality would be if you can get the same amount of work done in less time we want you to do more work instead.

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