Four-day week is giving profits, keeping employees happy, productive

Work life balance, four day week,
A young man working from home relaxes after his day's work | iStock Photo

For some companies in the United Kingdom, the four-day work-week is actually ensuring better productivity from employees and also giving better profits, according to a CNBC report.

Edinburgh-based food and drink marketing agency Lux had in January 2020 decided to trial the four-day week but with one condition — they chose not to tell clients.

They also ensured a shift-based four-week pattern, wherein some employees were asked to come on Monday to Thursday while others worked Tuesday to Friday to divide work and ensure clients did not notice.

“If our clients don’t notice, then that’s a huge measure of whether it’s working… none of our clients did, which was great,” Alice Will, the co-founder told CNBC in an interview.

The productivity boomed and so did the profits by 30%, productivity by 24%. In January 2022, Lux made the four-day week a permanent feature.

The move which used to be considered radical a few years ago has paid off for other companies too, albeit the Covid-19 pandemic forcing some to make the shift.

Four-day work week doesn’t mean lesser work. It actually means more work done in fewer days.

“It’s not about how many hours you put in … it’s about focusing on outputs,” said Will.

Still new across world

While across the world the scheme may still be new, with most traditional companies still being apprehensive about it, Iceland had has early as 2015 started trials and by 2019 found it to be an “overwhelming success”.

In 2021, Iceland made the four-day week a permanent feature for its public sector employees, and almost 86% of working population were eligible for shorter weeks.

Also read: UAE first in world to start four-and-a-half day workweek

But the big precedent to this scheme was laid out in 1922 by Ford which went with the 5-day work week from six days, and made it permanent from 1926. That has been adapted by much of the world now.

Now Unilever is testing the four-day week in New Zealand, and Microsoft is trying in Japan.

The success of the shorter work week has pushed companies such as board game maker Big Potato Games to adopt it and see massive sales of 350%. This however had employees understanding and adjusting to the requirements of the customers.

What they did was that the customer service team was put on contract hours while others were told that they may need to sometimes work on a Friday if there’s a deadline, event or photo shoot.

Dean Tempest, one of the co-founders of Big Potato Games, said that the time off does tend to level out over the year. And thanks to that, the productivity has zoomed and helped increase profits.

Works for employees

For employees, the shorter work week has meant more time with family, friends or engaging in hobbies or even winding out of the work-stress, rejuvenating oneself by the next Monday or Tuesday.

While such companies have been boasting the success of the shorter week, claiming it to be a “game changer”, the momentum is still yet to pick up in the vast part of the world.

Also read: ICC to discuss four-day Test proposal in March despite growing criticism

Joe O’Connor, CEO of the 4 Day Week Global organization, feels that sectors such as technology, finance and some parts of professional services could make the shift quickly with the four-day week becoming a norm in 2-3 years.

He believes that competition would push other companies as well as the government to adopt the policy, with people in the future looking forward to quality of life rather than money.

“So, when it comes to attracting the best talent, attracting investment we could definitely see the four-day work week becoming something that even countries turn to,” he said.

CATCH US ON: