If we had a choice, I think pretty much everyone would choose to work less and spend more time enjoying life. We spend so much time sat in offices longing for the weekend, only for it to come and go in the blink of an eye when it finally arrives.

The four-day working week is something that’s been proposed so many times – mainly by employees – and adapted versions of this are already in place. The question of whether this would ultimately be beneficial or a hindrance to your company is a difficult one to answer, which is why we’ve composed a list of some of the pros and cons to make it a little clearer.

Pro: Less Time Wasted

It can definitely be said that less time in the office benefits efficiency, after all 31% of UK workers have admitted that they spend ten hours a week being unproductive in the office. That’s almost a third of their working week spent focused on things unrelated to their job.

The question with this point though is whether it would be more beneficial to remove one working day from the week, or to just to lower an employee’s daily hours so they spend less continuous time in the office. Five seven-hour days will probably feel more manageable than four nine-hour ones.

Con: More Work, Less Time

Expected work output isn’t going to decrease if the working week is shortened. This means that employees will have less time to do the same amount of work they were already doing over the course of five days, leading to elevated levels of stress that may well hinder productivity more than the weariness of a longer week.

Even if employees work the same number of hours, the extensive nine to ten hour shifts can see productivity shoot way down because people already struggle to maintain focus when the afternoon comes around, let alone if they’re staying until 6pm every day.

Pro: Time to Recharge

No-one would say no to an extra day off because it means more time to relax with family and friends doing whatever you want. While this may not sound like a reasonable excuse to some employers, this extended time away from the office can help make employees more energised when they are at work.

Knowing that they have more free time than usual when the weekend comes around means that most people will be less distracted in the office. What’s more, the extra rest will take away some of the fatigue that comes from five long days on the trot with just a two day break.

Con: Problems for Clients

Closing the office for a whole day can be detrimental to certain companies where services are expected to run from Monday to Friday without fail. Some jobs have time constraints and need to be completed at a specific time on a regular basis, for example with social media management. If the working week was shortened, companies may end up losing clients or have to have their employees still do work on what would be their day off.

At the end of the day, there is no ideal solution to this predicament. With the UK sitting in fifteenth in the productivity table below countries like Sweden and Norway where the average working hours per week are lower, it’s obvious that something needs to be changed. Whether that’s removing a whole day, though, is uncertain. Perhaps if it was implemented with no rigid structure, allowing employees to choose which four days they came into work, then there may be less issues with meeting client demands.

However, employers would probably be better off altering their company’s working hours rather than days, a compromise that still allows employees more free time while also ensuring a more productive stream of work during the week. This is no longer an uncommon practice now that everyone has the legal right to request flexibility in the office, although it may still be a while before this change is present in every workplace.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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