The pandemic changed the way we work – from working from home practices to reduced hours to facilitate childcare, it seems as though a work-life balance has become acceptable. Recently, 70 UK companies, comprising over 3,300 workers, began trialling a four-day working week in an attempt to further redress the imbalance. But could this practice work for your SME?
What is a four-day week?
The aim of a four-day week is to reduce stress, increase efficiency and boost productivity. Workers who usually spend a lot of time in their offices, going to meetings, sitting at their desks and attending presentations could benefit from a reduced week. And happy workers equal a productive business – fewer hours can improve efficiency by reducing stress, which can cause over-tired and highly strung employees to make mistakes, as well as increasing staff turnover and training costs.
Problems with a four-day working week
There are, of course, issues with moving to a four-day working week. Managing both client and employee expectations is key, as is working out the best way to implement the change. Will you close the business on the fifth day, or will you have enough employees to stagger the extra day off throughout the week? If you will close, will this affect your clients and customers, and how can you mitigate this? How will your employees manage their workload on decreased hours? Will the increase in productivity counteract the reduced hours?
How to get started with a four-day week
The transition from a five-day to a four-day week can be tough, but the benefits will usually outweigh the teething problems. Speak to your employees about how they want their schedule to work – ask them what they think will make their days easier. Give them some time to think about how their workload might change under a new schedule, then come up with solutions together. Discuss through any concerns they may have and work through them together. And, most of all, enjoy your day off!