New ways of working including the four-day work week: the pros and cons


It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work in the UK, with many businesses having to abandon the office to work from home.

Although the working from home guidance has been lifted in January this year, it has been a chance for businesses to consider whether they really need staff in the office all the time. This can have multiple benefits including reduced overheads, better productivity, and giving staff flexibility to promote a good work life balance. The aftermath of this has seen a surge in different ways of working, whether that be hybrid (some days in the office and some at home), compressed hours perhaps over 4 days, or fully remote working from home. Organisations have considered that in the past 16 months, it may be time to change the way they operate, which could include the number of hours and days they work in the week. A four-day work week can be when an employee compresses their full-time hours (typically 35 hours) over a four-day period, so they are able to have a three day weekend. Research has shown that the advantages of a four-day working week includes increased productivity in employees, as spending less time at work will help them focus on work more. It also has environmental and cost saving benefits.

By implementing new ways of working including those outlined above, we are able to come away from the typical five day week in the office, which may no longer suit the needs of the modern-day professional. Happier employees and fewer absences will help employees to focus on their personal development, which not only increases their happiness but also allows them to be happier in their role. Also, it’s better for recruitment and retention, the majority of people think flexible working is positive for their quality of life. Of course, some disadvantages of hybrid, 4 day week and remote working, are that it is not inclusive of all industries. Some businesses or professions require a 24/7 presence which would make these ways of working unpractical and, in some cases, delay work - creating longer lead times. Also, a four-day week is not for everyone; some employees prefer the structure of a five-day working week in the office, or would prefer to put in more hours than a four-day working week offers. Final thoughts: Whilst a more flexible approach on working hours is now becoming the norm, a less disruptive, more gradual process would be to adopt a hybrid or flexible working policy instead. ForrestHR can offer assistance with this process and what this means in practice for your business.

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