In recent months/years, there has been a lot of news about companies and countries trialling a 4 day work week and what this has done for productivity and how this has affected the workplace. I wanted to spend some time discussing my own experience and what i’ve found. I like to believe that the COVID pandemic has allowed many of us to rethink how we work, what works for us as individuals and what’s really needed to get the job done.
In the Netherlands, it was common to have a part time day at work 32hrs / 36hrs per week. In the UK, I’ve seen it common to work 4 days or work full time hours over 4 days. The trials that have been held in both Iceland, the UK and various other European countries have given unions, employees and companies the opportunity to renegotiate and discuss working conditions in general. I am fully embracing and supportive of this initiative.
As a Consultant, there are a few different arguments for not having a 4 day week (e.g. availability for the client, being able to bill accurately etc), but for many other customers and roles, having a 4 day work week can really offer a lot of advantages and I’ve seen many clients welcome the 4 day week themselves.
I’ve had a few different days and trials for the 4 day week but have been doing it regularly since 2018. This was predominantly due to childcare reasons as our chosen childcare had no space on some of the days and now I’ve continued it as it’s a great way to have a little pause during the week and give me time to catch up on everything that I need to do outside of work. This has caused some stress during my other working days as:
- There are meetings sometimes scheduled for my non working day that I cannot attend (e.g. Work Town Halls etc). I have overcome this by listening to the recordings or alternatively (where possible) asking for the meeting to be moved.
- I am very clear with my team, clients and colleagues that I do not work on X day of the week and this means that I am not contactable nor will I be answering emails.
- My other working days can be a little heavy/ longer as I am working to ensure that everything is covered. This is one reason why I like having Wednesday as my day off as i can safely cover everything on either side of it. I found Friday’s being the most stressful day as there was always a lot to catch up on on Monday.
Why do it?
As it’s been seen by other countries and companies, the 5 day working week is outdated and it’s not really fit for purpose anymore for how we are working and the outputs of our craft. There’s also a lot of evidence to show that working a 4 day week, can help improve stress levels and increase your resilience and overall happiness.
What I’m doing to support the 4 day week:
With every new hire, I am offering them the opportunity to work 4 days a week either as pro-rated or alternatively as combusted hours over 4 days and it’s up to them how they manage their schedule. I have also offered this same offer to any of my existing team that may already be working 5 days a week. I think one of the biggest things is being open and flexible to whatever requirements and solutions might work. Some of these suggestions have included:
- Working a little longer but stopping work at Friday lunchtime
- This has also aligned with several clients who also stop work on Friday lunch
- A working week of 9/10 rather than 4/5 to fit in with personal schedules
- A flexible schedule towards doctors/dentists where you just adjust your working day and don’t take vacation time (a standard)
Whatever might be your reasoning for a 4 day week, why do you have to lose my trialling it out? It might be the best thing that you do to manage your career, personal health and wellbeing! Are you already working a 4 day week? Tell me about it in the comments.