The four-day workweek has gained a lot of buzz in the past year as trials resulted in some organisations experiencing benefits from it. In the UK, the campaign for the four-day workweek is led by 4 Day Week UK, who have conducted trials with 46 UK companies in 2022.
Although the UK trials led to promising signs for wider implementation of the four-day workweek, a new report by the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans shows a differing attitude towards it in the US. In their report, only 5% of US companies are currently offering the four-day workweek as an option for flexible working arrangements.
It should be noted that each country has their own working culture, which may contribute to why a four-day week may not be suitable for companies.
Four-Day Workweek 2023 Pulse Survey
The survey done by the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans was conducted with 376 US companies that were asked about their attitudes towards the implementation of the four-day workweek.
The report revealed that the four-day workweek is still one of the least popular flexible working arrangements, with only 5% offering it. The most common arrangements reported are hybrid working (75%), flexible hours (61%) and full-time remote working (50%).
Specifically on the companies’ attitudes towards the four-day workweek, a vast majority (80%) are not considering it and only 14% are considering it. As for those who have implemented it, only 1% have formally done it and another 1% are piloting, with a further 4% implementing on a case-by-case basis.
The main reasons why these companies are not considering the four-day week are due to the lack of interest from upper management (42%) and difficulty in implementing it for the whole organisation (38%). A further 36% of them also felt that this could negatively impact business and have doubts about it working for their organisational structure.
As for those who are considering it, nearly 70% are from professional services, manufacturing/distribution, healthcare and medicine, non-profit and high technology industries. These respondents are mostly thinking about how the four-day workweek can improve employee retention, business operations and productivity.
Implementing the four-day workweek comes with its challenges. Companies are used to a certain structure that has been maintained for their operations, and the four-day workweek can highly disrupt the flow of organisations.
Understandably, management will have doubts about offering the four-day week. The implementation of this will push organisations to rethink strategies to ensure that productivity is maintained with shorter working periods as well as ensuring that the transition period does not negatively impact business.
According to the World Economic Forum, this model may not suit all industries and sectors. There are specific areas of work that need to have a five or seven-day model, which shortening it to four days may be impractical. This includes logistics, emergency service and public transport.
Additionally, some workers may not suit a new work model as they have already established their working pace and adding a day off may be too disruptive. Further, companies have financial considerations as shorter weeks can mean more overtime payments for some sectors.
However, for those who do suit this model, the pilot has shown that the four-day workweek is an excellent way to boost employee well-being. The shorter workweek has shown a decrease in burnout, helping employees reach a better work-life balance. This also becomes an attractive selling point in recruitment to reach candidates who are looking for more flexible work arrangements.
Overall, the implementation of the four-day workweek at the moment is not yet widely available. It is understood that this flexible working model may not suit all businesses and employees in every country as various factors need to be considered. However, for those who can implement it, the four-day workweek remains an attractive offering for employees seeking better work benefits and experiences.