Is the 4 day week the key to a better work/life balance for workers?

4 day week-2

Does the four-day week really work for UK workers? With the four-day week trial now at an end, many firms around the UK have made the move permanent but was it a success for workers?

Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director at Marketing Signals, certainly thinks so after the four-day week improved productivity, reduced sickness and transformed the lives of his employees – particularly of a young dad who has saved over £800 a month and was the main catalyst for the move.

Gareth has since made the move permanent for all full time employees, with no loss in pay. He said:

“We have permanently moved to a four-day week, with no loss of pay and a new, shorter number of contracted hours (32). Initially we introduced this as a trial, however after the trial proved successful, we made the change permanent. The four-day week has improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and has even been mentioned by those applying for roles within the business.”

Why did we make the change?

“Having already offered our team flexi-time and remote working, the change for us was a natural progression and fitted in with our ethos of promoting a strong work/life balance. There were several reasons behind the move including a desire for higher productivity, a wish to help team members with the rising cost of living plus a general goal of further assisting employee well-being. In addition, we believed the change would enhance our appeal to prospective employees as well as helping retain the team we already had.”

“One of the main catalysts for the move came as a result of the cost of living crisis, which led to a team member, Jack Darracott, Web Developer at Marketing Signals, asking for a change in working hours due to increasing childcare costs. As a business we were already tentatively researching the concept of a four-day week prior to Jack coming to us, and this was just the push we needed to trial the new working arrangement.”

Quality not quantity

“Sometimes less is more, and this is certainly true for a four-day week. Less days does not mean less output, quite the contrary in fact. This new model of work focuses on quality rather than quantity, and revolutionises the future of work. We already measured our teams based on output not attendance, meaning it’s incumbent on team members to produce results rather than to demonstrate how many hours they spent working on something. Prior to the move we had been researching the pros and cons of the four-day week looking at various case studies from other companies.”

What challenges could a business wanting to change to a 4-day week potentially face?

“A four-day-week obviously wouldn’t work for all businesses but we do believe that where output can be clearly measured and managed, it is possible across many roles. However, there are many challenges that may stop a business switching to a four-day working week. The main three challenges are:

  1. A fear of the unknown – “we’ve always done it this way” is something many business owners may be thinking. However, by embracing the change and challenge, many should soon discover new and innovative ways to tackle the hurdles they are facing.

  1. A lack of trust in the staff and processes – If you hired someone to do a job, and you know the expected output is reasonable, why not trust them to run a bit quicker, find some efficiencies and free up some of their time to enjoy life outside of the working environment?

  1. Worrying about what clients would think – This should be the least of the worries but we do understand why it exists. If you are measuring and managing the right data points and outputs, your customers should never even know you are working a four day week as the output to them should remain unchanged. However, you may need to juggle your operations teams to ensure five days coverage, as we have done by splitting our team into two.”

“A good work/life balance is the key to a happy and healthy workforce, which leads to loyalty – ultimately helping our business grow. It also makes our company more attractive for potential future superstars, as people applying for jobs here have mentioned that the four-day week specifically attracted them to the role.”

More information on the move, along with some FAQs on how we do the four-day week can be found here.

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