The four-day week may be the future of UK work, but it will only work in specific industries and it will take an intelligent approach to be successful.
Trials in the UK and abroad testing the viability of a four-day working week have generally been successful. 92% of the participants in the UK trial are continuing with a four-day work week after seeing revenue increases of 35% on average, and the number of staff leaving falling by 57% over a six-month period ending in Dec 2022.
On top of that, data we’ve gathered shows that interest in the concept of a four-day work week remains extremely high to this day among employees searching on Google and posting on social media (see data below).
But it may not be the right solution for every business, and even if it could work in theory, its success may depend on the type of four-day work week you adopt, according to Banner.
Alex Winstanley, our Head of New Business, says: “The world of work has always been resistant to change, but the pandemic showed us what was possible thanks to technology that enables hybrid and home working.
“The four-day working week is an exciting idea for most workers, and potentially a bit scary for business owners. But the results of trials all around the world, and in the UK, have shown it can have a positive impact on productivity, staff well-being, and retention.
“But there is a big difference between a fixed four-day work week in which an entire company is closed on, say, a Friday, or a hybrid-style four-day work week in which each employee has a different day of the traditional working week off. Both approaches have merit, and equally won’t be appropriate for everyone.
“Either way, businesses need to consider it very carefully because one issue with the four-day work week is that, once implemented, it will be very hard to undo without negatively impacting morale. It needs an intelligent approach.”
Industries where a fixed four-day working week would probably be inappropriate include:
- Logistics and other sectors with time-based performance
- Retail & hospitality and other sectors that provide services to consumers when they are typically not at work
- Emergency services and all other sectors that require 24-hour coverage
- International traders and other sectors where work hours are dictated by international communication and cooperation
Alex Winstanley continues, “Regardless of whether the four-day week is the future for your industry or not, the world of work is becoming increasingly fragmented, almost to the point where employees of the same company may never meet face-to-face. For businesses to adapt to this challenge, they need clever hybrid working solutions that can scale up with the times. The best way to do this is with a good workplace supplies partner who can recommend approaches, systems and technology that have been tried and tested.”
Here's a snapshot of the data:
Interest over time – “4 day work week” – 2004 – 2023
Frequent words used on Twitter associated with the phrase “4 day work week”
A 4 day work week make the most sense. I don’t understand how 5 days at work and 2 days to yourself ever seemed like a good idea.— mabintou (@mabintou) February 23, 2023
Two weeks ago the entire team at The Body Coach worked their final Friday as we moved to a 4-day work week.— Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) July 21, 2023
One of our core values at the Body Coach is "Balance" and this is the next step for us in trying to create the happiest, healthiest workplace we possibly can ☺️💪