Could a 4-day week be a good fit for your team? 

I often say that your team is your most important asset and keeping them motivated and happy is essential to your success. 

I am going to first blow my own team’s trumpet. In September, we won the NatWest South East Business Award for Customer Service. This is some achievement and is down to the whole team.  

Later, we were featured in the book ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Businesses’. Another great achievement which is again, down to the team. Do bear in mind though that an awesome team needs an awesome leader, and if you are not an awesome leader, you can be taught how to be. We are finding that we are being asked by more and mor business owners to help them in this area of the business. 

Anyway, back on topic. 

One main thing that has come about since the pandemic is working a 4-day week. This has had business owners saying, “It’s impossible, it can’t be done”, which is their knee jerk reaction, without looking into it further.    

The Pandemic has acted as an impetus for reflection, with many workers and business owners reassessing the hours they work, as well as the priority that work has in their lives. 

A survey from Slack showed that 72% of respondents would prefer a hybrid approach to work, i.e. a mix of remote and office work. However, there is also a growing belief that we should be working fewer hours too and aiming for a ‘4-day week’. This would mean less time in the workplace and more time with our friends and families, with a greater level of underlying happiness as a result. 

But do your team want to work fewer hours? Is the company ready to cope with a reduced staff on hand to get the job done? And what is the overall impact of working a shorter week? 

The advantages of a 4-day week 

The suggestion of a 4-day week is something that’s been around for a while, but there’s been an increasing ground swell of support for the idea of working shorter hours and achieving a better work/life balance as a result. 

In Iceland, 2,500 workers (1% of the total Icelandic population) took part in a trial of the 4-day week between 2015-2019. Most workers moved from a 40-hour week to a 35 or 36-hour week, giving them one extra day to focus on things outside of the workplace. The trial was a big success and has resulted in 86% of Iceland’s workforce now working reduced hours. 

As a business owner, you are no doubt already thinking ‘But how can my business still function if my employees are working less hours and are being less productive?’. But the interesting outcome was that productivity was not negatively affected by this move to reduced hours. 

So, could a 4-day week actually be a good fit for your team? 

  • Your employees are just as productive – a 4-day week was trialled by New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian and the results were surprising. After spending two months testing a 20% shorter week, they found that their employees were ‘happier, more focused, and producing the same amount of work’. The Icelandic trial found the same result, that workers were equally as productive, with no drops in output, when working for only 4 days in the week. 
  • Your team still earns the same money – one potential worry for your employees is a drop in pay if they are working less hours. But under a 4-day work scheme, you continue to pay your team the same wages or salaries. So, although your employees are working less hours, there is no drop in their income and no resulting money worries. 
  • Your team is happier and more engaged – results of 4-day week trials globally have shown that employees on reduced hours are happier, more engaged and more energised for their work. So, rather than pushing your team to work a 40+ hour week and risking fatigue, burnout and disengagement, you ease off on the throttle. This gives your employees a less pressurised work environment and a better level of happiness. And as we know, a happy workforce is also a productive workforce. 
  • A more sustainable business model – with your people spending less time in the office, factory or workspace, your business will be using fewer resources and having less of an impact on the planet. Your utility bills will reduce, you will need fewer office supplies and your team will not be commuting as frequently – all of which is great for your carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of your business. 

Talk to us about the financial impact of a 4-day week 

Adopting a 4-day week does have a range of different benefits for your team. And creating a happy, productive and engaged workforce is always a good thing to achieve. 

But can your business still turn a profit while adopting a reduced working week? 

If you are concerned about the financial impact of a 4-day week, come and talk to us. We can look at your sales and revenue figures, alongside your staff utilisation numbers, to show you how your margins can remain the same (or even higher) by adopting a reduced working week. 

Andy Page – www.mphaccountants.co.uk

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