The idea of a 4-day work week is nothing new. Various companies and governments have been experimenting with pilot programs in the past. However, the on-going pandemic has continuously pushed for more flexible working arrangements. As a result many campaigns for more flexible work have reignited.

For example, last month Spain’s Vice President Pablo Iglesias made a proposal for a 4-day work week that could lead to more jobs, improved health, and increase productivity. Similarly, the British company Unilever announced they would by trialing a year-long program and access the outcome.

Whenever the subject is brought up people’s opinions are commonly split. Some are not convinced by the idea, believing that implementing more flexible working arrangements would be difficult, costly, and reduce productivity. While some of those factors are true for certain businesses, it’s not the case for most. As the COVID-19 pandemic became a global issue in March 2020, office jobs quickly switched to working remotely from home. A feat that many bosses and leaders would have argued against under normal circumstances.

In 2019, the Japanese subsidiary of Microsoft ran a trial testing the viability of a 4-day week. Their results reported increased productivity and decreased costs for electricity and office supplies.

In a similar vein, a 2019 research project by Henley Business School surveyed the benefits and challenges of a four-day working week. They found that while the move would require proper planning it would lead to benefits of improved employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

Though these results are certainly promising, the change may not be viable for all business types. Physically demanding blue-collar jobs would likely suffer if their employers switched to longer shifts and shorter weeks. Similarly, customer service providers with extended office hours will still require employees to cover the time.

This new bite was adapted from an article originally written for WE Forum.

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