Businesses with a 4-day week have a more engaged workforce, hold on to staff and have a more diverse team, according to you.
In December, our survey asked you if a four-day week was the way to go in a post-Covid-19 world.
With vast numbers of employees working from home and re-assessing their work-life balance – we asked both employees and business owners whether the time is right for a shift in working patterns.
Of the employers we asked – 29% said that they did have a four-day week or flexible working policy.
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Of these, 63% said they have a more engaged workforce, 25% said they had better staff retention and 13% had a more diverse and inclusive team.
But the working pattern is not without its problems. Asked what the downsides are, business owners responded that holiday cover and rotas for seven-day operations can be a challenge while not all staff are prepared to help out in emergencies or for overtime.
For those businesses who said they did not have part-time or flexible working, 37% said they were most concerned about the effect it would have on productivity, 37% said they feared it would impact on customer service and 26% said it would mean hiring more staff to cover the shortfall.
For employees, just 13% of respondents said they worked in a 4-day, flexible or part time role but 89% said they would prefer to.
Of those who had flexible working in place, 82% said they were better able to manage their work and home responsibilities and 18% said they were able to continue in a job they were trained in, which they could not have done if the role was full-time only.
And for employees, there are down sides too – with one respondent saying: “When looking for work, part-time hours and flexibility can sometime be perceived as ‘low rank’ or unqualified. As a female in a senior management position, the door was well and truly closed to part-time working.”
Another said: “It’s a full time job squeezed into part time hours.”
Trevor Worth, Chief Executive at Devon law firm Portcullis Legals introduced the four-day week two years ago and hasn’t looked back.
He said: “We became the first company in the world to introduce the four-day week and raise salaries at the same time. After that we had 11million hits on our website with interest from across the world.”
Despite the challenges of the pandemic this year – which meant he had to reduce the team from 10 to 7 – Mr Worth said he hasn’t looked back on the four-day policy.
“I wanted to make sure that our employees had the best quallty of life they could while at home and at work. Having that extra day means they can take care of life admin, like going to the dentist or whatever they need to do.
“I would like us to think of it as the four-day weekend rather than the four day week. I have no issue with our staff taking a Friday one week and a Monday the next.”
The team work a 34.5hour week and Mr Worth said he encourages everyone to work smarter ‘not harder’ while they are in working hours.
He said: “The way we all live has changed and the traditional working pattern of 9-5, five days a week is broken. It has its roots in the 18th century. We are now supposed to be in the fourth industrial revolution and the way we work should reflect that.
“I think if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is to be open minded and flexible. We have to be innovative, find what works for our own teams and give things a try. For us, the four day week is embedded in our culture and whatever happens, we’re sticking with it.”
A report published in December by thinktank Autonomy concluded a four-day week would be affordable for most firms with more than 50 workers.
Autonomy – which is campaigning for a shorter working week without loss of pay – said the majority of 50,000 firms studied would be able to cope with the change through higher productivity or by raising prices.
And even under its “worst-case” scenario, a four-day week would be affordable for most firms once the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic had passed.
The report comes after Unilever in New Zealand announced that it is to trial the 4-day working week without cutting pay – it says that it is going to measure output rather than time spent at work.
The move follows a Government-backed study with Zurich Insurance that showed by offering flexible, part-time and job share roles – 20% more women were applying for senior roles.
And it’s not just a women in the workplace issue. While the research found that women are more likely to have caring responsibilities and may prefer flexible working options, it found many more men also applied for roles when they offered flexible working options, suggesting the issue was just as important for them.
But it seems we are still traditionalists when it comes to 9-5.
A study by Timewise, which campaigns for flexible working, said most jobs do not offer flexible working despite the huge change in the world of work caused by the coronavirus crisis.
A study of more than six million job vacancies over the past year indicated that four out of five did not include an option to work flexibly.
Timewise chief executive Emma Stewart said: “Women, carers, older workers and those with health concerns are currently at the greatest risk of becoming ‘flexcluded’ from work, as new ways of working fail to be reflected in employers’ recruitment advertising.
“Whether offering remote working, or part-time hours, or staggered start and finish times. We have a real opportunity as we rebuild the economy to finally create a level playing field for the millions for whom flex is now both a necessity and an expectation.”
Do you work a four-day week or would you like to? Does working less hours mean less profit? Tell us what you think in the comments section below