The Four Day Working Week – Is It Worth The Hype?
The Four Day Week The four-day week has been a huge topic of conversation in recent years, especially following the vast changes in working patterns and attitudes towards work. The adoption of home and hybrid working practices have created certain…
Blog7th Jul 2023
The Four Day Week
The four-day week has been a huge topic of conversation in recent years, especially following the vast changes in working patterns and attitudes towards work. The adoption of home and hybrid working practices have created certain challenges however in the most part businesses have benefitted greatly as a result.
A recent worldwide trial has seen 61 organisations from a wide range of sectors and industries adopt a four-day working week for a period of six months. The UK pilot was launched in June of last year by 4 Day Week Global which is a not-for-profit organisation based in New Zealand. Run by the thinktank Autonomy and a team of academics, businesses were offered training sessions and coaching to assist them to re-evaluate their working practices. Employee salaries remained unchanged throughout the trial and employees were asked to complete their work within four days instead of five.
AAB People were delighted to see one of our valued clients, Cameron Drywall trial the four-day working week. Although not part of the worldwide trial, the Glasgow based dry lining contractor decided to roll it out to their office-based staff. Company Director, Rachel Steedman believes there are great financial and operational benefits to businesses when you allow your employees greater freedom of choice. Due to the nature of the work being completed by the company, it was not possible to adopt hybrid working therefore the four-day week was implemented as a compromise for employees looking to establish a greater work life balance. The feedback from employees was very positive with most of the team on board with the roll out, especially individuals with families and commitments outside of work.
Despite the many advantages experienced by some businesses while trialling the four-day working week, it was important Cameron Drywall to recognise that this practice may not be suitable for all departments. Conversely, implementing a four-day working week may also increase the level of pressure on employees who will be required to fit the same volume of work into a shorter timeframe. This could result in a drop in quality of work and potentially leading to a significant reduction in productivity. Business leaders should be aware that one size does not fit all and changes in working patterns must take into account each individual’s roles and responsibilities. A portion of the Cameron Drywall workforce are required to be available to clients round the clock – would this be suitable?
The trial ran from November 2022 until January 2023 with regular reviews of productivity being carried out along the way. Although there were some initial concerns such as availability to clients and the reduction of holiday allowance for employees, the trial was a success with many requesting that it be implemented on a permanent basis. Due to the nature of the construction industry, it was relatively straightforward for Cameron Drywall to adopt this change as many of their site workers finish early most Fridays. This shorter working schedule has now been offered to office-based staff however they are required to remain available to clients should there be any urgent requests.
The findings from the trial were extremely positive with management experiencing increased levels of productivity across the board. Staff retention is up as a result of the change with fewer people vacating roles for other companies. The firm are also finding it easier to attract new talent and have seen a considerable increase in applications for roles within the business.
Rachel said: ‘’We were delighted to be able to offer this ground-breaking trial to our employees in 2022, following what had been a challenging period for the construction industry as a whole. It is so important for organisations to consider new and inventive ways to keep their workforce motivated and to ensure that there is continued job satisfaction. We recognised that by providing our office-based staff with greater flexibility this has allowed them to achieve an enhanced work-life balance. Many have been able to pursue certain hobbies or have even taken on additional work elsewhere which has been excellent for staff morale. I would highly recommend this trial to other businesses looking to rethink their working practices to enhance productivity.’’
The trial demonstrated that not all businesses would be able to flourish with a four-day working week. Out of the 61 companies who took part in the trial, only 18 implemented it permanently. Some companies do not have the bandwidth or capital to invest, and customer service may be negatively affected a result. However, overall the findings from the trial were positive with increased productivity and staff retention. Employees were given greater freedom of choice becoming more motivated when in work and were able to spend more time doing activities that they enjoy out with the working week. It can be concluded that the implementation of a four-day working week is entirely dependent on the specific business or industry and the demands on the individuals within the business. Prior to any changes in working patterns being implemented, business leaders should assess these factors in detail and consult with their staff, heavily involving them in the decision-making process. After all, your people are at the centre of your business and will have an impact on its overall success!
For more information on Cameron Drywall and our various other clients, please visit our website below.
Looking to establish a flexible working policy for your business? Contact our HR team HERE.