Barely anything has changed in the lives of the majority of workers since the Industrial Revolution, especially when it comes to the daily routine of 9 to 5, day after day, five days a week. Barring the flexible jobs, work from home jobs and freelance gigs, most of the population who are the bread-winners, have to step out and follow the eight-hour grind at least for five days per week. However, recently, a popular idea of four-day work weeks has not only been proposed but even opted for by many organizations.
A whopping 81% of the respondents voted for a four-day work week model in a survey conducted by the UK’s Trade Union Council to assess how changes to the current and future workplaces can best benefit workers.
But this only proves the popularity of the idea, not the consequences of the reduced time and other complexities that will come with it. Let’s look at some arguments in favour and opposition to the trending model of a four-day work week, and get a complete overview of the situation to arrive at better decisions.
First, The Benefits Of A Four-Day Workweek!
To completely get on the left side of the equation, lets first unlock the right side and figure out how a lesser number of days in a week helps.
1. Increased Productivity:
Employees experience a spike in their productivity levels owing to the fact that they can allocate their time much more thoughtfully instead of just spending long hours at the office doing nothing. This increases their efficiency, brings job satisfaction, and all of this without bringing down the overall work results.
2. Work-life Balance:
Lesser number of days spent at work increases one more day to the weekends, giving employees much-needed time off with their loved ones, especially for people who need to look after their kids and the elderly.
It also promotes gender equality as both males and females have an equal chance of getting involved in daily routines and household chores.
3. Less Stress:
Shorter working hours lead to lesser stress, translating into health benefits. It also reduces the risk of excessive drinking and depression etc.
4. Saved Fuel:
A four-day work week means lesser time spent commuting to work. This helps in reducing overall carbon footprint in terms of savings in fuel and gas and leading to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Now, For The Cons!
Countering the above arguments, a four-day work week has some serious ramifications, both for organizations and employees. Here are some of them:
1. Hiring Costs Increase:
A four-day workweek would entail less working time tracked. For many companies, this would pose problems as there is an objective necessity to stick to a work plan that implies a certain number of hours per week. A four-day workweek inevitably creates scheduled gaps and a flow of missed deadlines, causing extra expenses on outsourcing or hiring extra staff.
This would put a burden on companies in terms of going back and forth between various resources working part-time or out of office.
2. Burden On Existing Resources:
Not all companies will be comfortable bearing the increased costs related to excessive hiring, which may put all the burden on the existing resources, leading to more working hours. This will take a toll on the productivity, especially if the general eight-hour workday extends to a ten-hour day.
Additionally, it can also negatively affect their health leading to reduced focus and possible attention failures, which is extremely dangerous especially at industrial facilities.
3. Uneven Resources:
The availability of the staff for 4 days instead of the general 5 days may not work well with an organization’s clients. There will still be calls expected to be answered, emails needed to be replied to.
Before shifting to a four-day workweek model, it is necessary to do an overall analysis of the various stakeholders involved in the business. Frankly, if the arrangement does harm to the customer-centric nature of an organization, you simply cannot afford the shift to reduced working days.
There are always some people who cannot get enough work done in even a typical eight-hour work schedule, owing to a number of factors such as different working styles, job role requiring more number of hours due to the critical work etc.
Such people will suffer a lot from the four-day work week model as they will have to compress an extra day’s work in the normal working days which could extend to 10 or maybe even 12 hours per day. This will hamper their productivity in the longer run, obviously also having unfavourable consequences.
5. Home-Front Issues:
Working for four days a week would entail almost everyone working for 10 hours per day on an average. In such a scenario, parents will face a hard time looking for adequate child care who would be willing to look after the kids for the extended hours.
Also, as far as saving costs on fuel by saving the extra day’s commute to the office is concerned, it may never happen because there will be a tendency to use the surplus day planning a vacation they otherwise wouldn’t take. All of this coupled with the long working hours may lead to increased fatigue and more problems for the employees.
Four-Day Workweek — The ‘Indian’ Perspective!
The above model has been talked about, implemented and can be corroborated by all sorts of analyses, data, and reports, ready for anyone to view. It is quite popular in the west and some organizations have already made the shift to a four-day work week. But the story takes a u-turn when it comes to the Indian context. Experts are of the view that this model may not be practical for Indian companies, especially sectors related to customer service, retail, entertainment, and healthcare, which needs the presence of resources 24×7.
Besides, the mindset of people really needs to change before adopting this model, as a four-day workweek would entail working longer hours and staying connected post working hours too. Indians are just getting around to the concept of working for passion, more than working for a salary.
As far as the statistics go, in a recent survey, it was found that India is the most hard-working country with 69% of full-time employees saying they would work five to six days a week even if they had the option to work fewer days for the same pay. This means right now, Indians are happy with the five / six day work week.
The future is constantly changing and this model may be introduced in India in the wake of the wave of start-ups and newer work policies being introduced even in corporates. However, successful implementation of the model would need a revolution in mindsets too!