The pandemic paved the way for the labour market's newly introduced hybrid work models, and now, the following steps towards further flexibility of the working week are underway.
More and more companies worldwide are not only testing but already implementing the 4-day workweek following the 100:80:100 model: Full salary for 80% of the former working time and 100% productivity.
The strategy is to boost the employees' mental health, protect the company's productivity and support the employees' three-day weekend to gear down, recover and gather strength for a new, efficient workweek.
In a successful six-month trial in 2022 in England involving 61 companies and 2,900 employees, 56 companies have now chosen to go all in for the time-reduced workweeks.
England's first app-based bank, Atom Bank, was among the first to introduce and offer a permanent 4-day workweek for its around 500 employees.
"We cut 3½ hours from each employee's workweek keeping their salary unchanged. We estimated that this investment would represent around 9% of the cost for each employee," CEO of Atom Bank Mark Mullen summarizes.
The strategy of the 4-day workweek is to boost employees´ mental health, protect
the company's productivity and support the employees' 3-day weekend to recover
and gather strength for a new efficient week. Photos: iStock
"We noticed no measurable decrease in our productivity. I don't think employees are lazy, but fewer workweek hours will encourage most people to be more efficient at complicated tasks.
Since then, we have seen declining staffing and reduced recruitment costs, lower sickness absence and a greater engagement with our brand. We have also documented higher productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction."
Several studies show that a convincing proportion of office workers are ready to complete their weekly timetable in four rather than five working days.
Global surveys agree that approximately 80-90% of responding employees support the 4-day workweek provided they will maintain their current salary if and when their work schedule is adjusted.
A convincing proportion of office employees will be ready to complete their weekly
timetable in four rather than five working days, provided they maintain their current
salary when their work schedule is adjusted.
Remarkably many companies report, after trial periods have ended, often significant productivity improvements and greater employee well-being and satisfaction.
Among the disadvantages is that not all national labour market legislation allows employees with 40-hour working weeks to switch to work, for example, four days of 10 working hours.
Belgium became the first country in Europe to legislate for a four-day week. In February 2022, Belgian employees won the right to perform a full workweek in four days without loss of salary.
Following the success of other trial programmes on the continent, Portugal has recently taken the plunge and joined a growing list of countries dabbling with a four-day week.
Overall, the 4-day workweek seems to be slowly but surely gaining traction across
the globe, but whether governments will definitively adopt the idea is to be seen.
In Scotland, a government trial is due to start in 2023, while the Welsh government is considering a process with workers having their hours reduced by 20% without suffering any loss in compensation.
With 34.2 hours, Germany is home to one of Europe´s shortest average working weeks. Yet, German trade unions are calling for further reduced working hours.
Overall, the 4-day workweek seems to be slowly but surely gaining traction across the globe, but whether governments will definitively adopt the idea is yet to be seen. ●
Entrepreneur.com: A 4-day work week could benefit employees
Washingtonpost.com: My company introduced a 4-day workweek.
Allwork.space: How the rise of 4-day work weeks could reshape the coworking industry
Euronews.com: 4-day week - which countries have embraced it, how is it going so far?