Should you trial a 4-day work week?

4 day work week Ellis Fox Blog

There have been a number of different responses by companies to address the issues of burnout and ongoing resignations amongst their employees. Work from home, remote working or a flexible hybrid model have almost become the norm. Additionally, a growing trend in the UK, is companies trialling a 4-day work week rather than the traditional Monday to Friday. We look at what’s behind this trend and if it could be a consideration for your company.

What’s the goal?

Historically there was the belief that putting in more hours at the office would result in more work being done. Unfortunately in some corporate environments it became an unsaid expectation for career progression. However, there’s a growing body of evidence that there’s an inverse relationship between productivity and hours worked.

The reality is that people get fatigued with extended work hours. They aren’t able to focus on tasks, lose concentration and may even end up making mistakes that they never normally would. By contrast, more rest, whether it’s in the form of shorter work days, smaller and more frequent breaks, or one less full work day in the week, is enabling people to be more productive at work.

Considerations for trialling a 4-day work week

While many companies have been trialling the 4-day work week, it does require a level of cross sector collaboration to be effective. If project managers, site engineers or quantity surveyors are allowed a 4 day work week, yet site works continue for 5 or more days, this can bring challenges. Equally if manufacturers or suppliers choose to operate and make deliveries for only 4 days, this would need to factor into planning and operations to prevent delays.

Employee needs should be a primary consideration. If you have a high performing employee that is prone to burn out, then a 4 day work week is likely a very good solution for them. It’ll force them to take time off from work to look after their wellbeing while enabling them to be more productive when they are at work. Other employees may have home responsibilities that they’re struggling to manage. Having an extra day to be able to attend to these items can help ensure they’re less distracted when at work.

Ultimately if the goal is to improve productivity, then less hours or more rest is an important part of this.  Also, each company has unique circumstances. You’ll never know if it’s a worthwhile solution unless you trial it.