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Should businesses move to a 4-day working week?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably seen debates surrounding the four day work week. 

In June 2022, 70 UK companies with more than 3,300 employees began trialling a four day work week without reducing employee pay.

How does the 4 day work week work? 

Whilst some individuals do full time hours over four days, this trial doesn’t compress 35 hours into four days, but instead reduces these hours to around 28 hours a week across four days, and having a three day weekend. 

This is based on the 100-80-100 model which encompasses 100% of pay for 80% of time, in exchange for 100% productivity.

The case for a 4 day work week 

Digitalisation and technology has sped up the way we work - time intensive everyday activities such as paper-based admin, travelling to and from meetings and general comms has become much quicker, thanks to software. 

Because of this, it could be argued that the five day work week isn’t necessary, and should be a thing of the past. 

Studies have shown that: 

  • 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and keep quality staff with a four-day working week (Breathe HR).

  • Research by Henley Business School revealed that companies with a four-day week found that over three-quarters of staff (78%) were happier, less stressed (70%) and took fewer days off ill (62%). 

  • 1/3 of business leaders say switching to a 4-day week will be important to success in the future (Computer World).

  • Moving to a 4-day week has already saved UK businesses an estimated £92 billion annually (The HR Director).

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… but does a 4 day week work for everyone? 

Whilst a 4 day work week sounds amazing, it won’t work for every business. If you’re expected to cram 35 hours into 4 days, you’ll quickly find yourself burnt out productivity levels will drop. 

If you deal with customers day-to-day, you may find a 4 day work week can negatively impact customer satisfaction. A Utah study, found that whilst there were great employee and employer benefits, it resulted in poor customer satisfaction. Customers complained that they were unable to access services with offices closed on a Friday

The 4 day work week in Legal, General Insurance and Finance

We wanted to understand where company owners in the Legal, Financial Services and General Insurance industry stand on the four day work week, and what employees thought of this new routine. 

Our LinkedIn poll has shown: 

  • 22% of businesses are striving towards a four day work week.

  • 37% of companies said they weren’t going to embrace the four day work week.

  • 41% of respondents were unsure.

One of the main concerns that came from owners, directors and managers was whether clients would get a consistent level of service across the four days, with someone saying, “I think it’s a great idea I’d just need to be convinced that our clients would still receive a seamless service.” 

We also asked employees about their thoughts on the four day work week. Unsurprisingly, 82% of professionals said they’d support this new routine. 

Interestingly, 10% said no, with one respondent commenting, “Certain companies will have issues with productivity so will push more work and higher targets for the 4 working days, thus stressing out the staff.” 

This suggests that professionals may be concerned about the added pressure management may place on them, outweighing the benefits of a four day week. 

It will be interesting to see the results of the trial - from improved employee wellbeing, to increased productivity, the benefits are already being realised. This suggests that the four day work week could be the future for some companies.

If you’re on the lookout for your next role in Insurance, Financial Services or Legal, search our vacancies now. If you’re an employer looking to grow your team with the industry’s top talent, speak to our expert consultants.