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What will a four-day week mean for the office?

The four-day week is growing in popularity, but what is it and why are so many businesses giving it a go? In this blog post we discuss the pros and cons of working reduced hours and explore the impact it will have on office design.

What is a four-day week?

A four-day week is just what it says on the tin. Employees work for four days a week instead of the traditional five. In some cases, staff will just be paid for four days work. However, many companies have brought in a four-day week with no reduction in salary.

A four-day week should not be mixed up with compressed hours. In compressed hours, an employee works longer daily hours to fit full-time hours into four days. A true four-day week is a reduction of the number of hours worked.

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Which companies have already implemented a four-day week?

Iceland (the country, not the supermarket) are one of the leaders in the four-day working week. Between 2015 to 2019, they conducted the world’s largest pilot of a reduced hours week without any cuts in pay. The trial was a success with nearly 90% of the working population in the country now working fewer hours or having other modifications.

Since then, a number of other countries and individual employers have followed suit. In the UK, a range of employers are taking part in a four-day week trial like that in Iceland. These include:

What are the pros of a four-day week?

Reduced costs

A four-day week can cut costs for businesses and its employees. If an office is closed for one day a week, running costs would see a significant drop. Employees would save money by not having to commute as often.

Improved wellbeing

 A three-day weekend provides staff with the opportunity to do more of what they love and improve their work-life balance. Better wellbeing is also shown to lead to fewer health issues and sick days.

Increased productivity

Happier, more fulfilled employees tend to be more focused on their job. By improving staff wellbeing, you could actually increase business productivity. Microsoft Japan implemented a four-day week in 2019 and saw a whopping 40% increase in productivity!

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 What are the cons of a four-day week?

It’s not suitable for all businesses (or workers)

Some businesses require a five, or even seven, day-a-week presence. Not having anyone available for three days a week just isn’t an option in some sectors. Similarly, some staff members prefer the structure of a five-day week.

Productivity pressure

Most four-day week arrangements are based on a 100:80:100 model. This means staff get 100% of the pay for 80% of the time but still need to maintain 100% productivity. There’s a risk that staff might feel additional stress trying to maintain full-time productivity levels, having a detrimental effect on wellbeing.

It requires discipline

Beware creeping hours as staff try to fit existing workloads into just four days!

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What does this mean for office buildings?

With hybrid working on the rise and the four-day week gaining popularity, the role of the office has never been more important. As teams spend less time together, the time they do have in the office is even more precious. Office design will need to encourage collaboration and ensure the shift from home to office working is seamless.

Expect a four-day week enabled office to have:

If you’d like to get your office four-day ready, get in touch. We’d love to design you a space that enables collaboration and new ways of working.

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