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The Benefits of a 4-day working week

Tired of the rat race*?

The 5 day working week might be coming to an end (in some companies, at least) after a nationwide trial ended in February. In total, 60 businesses took part in the trial and the results were very positive. 92% of these businesses said they would move to a 4-day model and nearly 71% of employees said they saw an improvement in their health and wellbeing*. Iceland was the first country to adopt the shorter working week, after the world’s largest trial. Germany has also allowed many companies to reduce the working hours. The 4-day working week was made legal in Belgium in 2022 and the 4.5-day week was brought in the UAE in the same year. Many other countries, including Spain, Japan, Australia and the USA are looking actively at making the working week shorter.



Unsurprisingly, there are number of benefits to a shorter working week:


Physical health and wellbeing

Nearly three quarters of the employees in the trial said they felt healthier and more positive because of the extra day off. An additional day at home meant they could invest more time in their family, taking exercise and doing their hobbies. Companies found their staff took less time off due to illness and stress because of the added day away from work.


Work/life balance*

Ever since the pandemic, businesses have had to move to a more flexible way of working, with many people working from home for at least 2 days a week. This change has meant that employees are keen to improve their work/life balance and have more time at home. As detailed above, the benefits to physical health are clear.







Easier recruitment*

A shorter working week and better work/life balance is very desirable for potential staff, so companies found it much easier to hire new people.


Increased productivity*

Companies that took part in the trial generally saw a boost in productivity. This was partly because many staff were working longer days when they were at work, but the workers were also more refreshed, focussed and positive because of the extra day at home.


Reduced costs


Many businesses were able to close the buildings for another day, which saved money on services like electricity and water, and other office management costs like food and cleaning.






Better for the environment

The reduced running costs* also had a positive effect on the companies’ carbon footprint*, which is great news for the planet!


So what’s not to like? The change to a 4-day working week won’t happen in every business: restaurants, shops and hotels wouldn’t be able to close an extra day, but it shows that flexible working can be good for both employers and employees. Next time you’re applying for a job, see if they are willing to discuss this!



Glossary

The rat race: the working week, usually from Monday to Friday.

Wellbeing: refers to a healthy, positive feeling.

Work/life balance: a good balance between working and having free time. Usually, people prefer to work less!

Recruitment: the hiring of staff into a company.

Productivity: the amount of work a business does.

Running costs: the amount of money needed to run a business.

Carbon footprint: the amount of CO2 a person or organization produces by using services like electricity and running vehicles.

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