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The benefits of a four-day week  

Working 300 hours a week doesn’t necessarily mean success and more productivity. Perhaps we need to take a ‘less is more’ approach…  

Imagine a world where employees are less stressed, more engaged, experience good overall work-life balance and companies see an increased revenue. Plus, you get to keep your current salary without worrying if you’re working long or hard enough. Well, imagine no more.  

The pilot programmes instituted by 4 Day Week Global boast an impressive 60% improvement in employees’ work-life balance, 8.1% increase in company revenue, employee fatigue decreasing by 10%, stress levels decreasing by 32%, and overall life satisfaction increasing by 57.5%. The results were gathered from thousands of workers across 30 companies based in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and show great promise for the future of business hours.   

Now, it’s South Africa’s turn. The first-ever pilot programme was introduced a while ago, with over 20 companies participating. So far, participants have shared good sentiments.  

The new model  

The 100-80-100 model is the foundation of the four-day week, whereby employees earn 100% of their salary in exchange for 80% of time worked and 100% productivity. Since workers will be in-office for one day less, businesses who adopt the model make up for ‘lost time’ by extending the number of hours worked on the four days of the week. 

On the upside  

By having an extra day off, employees will have more chances to rest, spend time with family and friends, as well as pursue hobbies and other activities that contribute to their well-being. This, in turn, can lead to decreased stress levels, improved health and increased job satisfaction. According to counsellor and psychometrist Corlia Branders, implementing the 4-Day Week model may contribute to healthier and more engaged employees as it will allow a healthier work-life balance.  

“Employers who promote work-life balance by offering flexible work schedules, paid time off and other benefits that help employees balance their professional and personal lives can reduce stress and contribute to healthier, happier employees.” In general, she adds, workers are more likely to be healthy and invested in their jobs if their workplace supports values such as work-life balance, positive relationships, professional and personal growth as well as health and wellness.  

Also read: Debunking career myths

Change isn’t easy  

Even so, this doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind, since the difficulty of implementation in some sectors should be considered.  

“Some businesses may find it a bit challenging to transition to a four-day work week as they require their employees to be available daily,” Corlia says. Workers will also need to work extra hours that would otherwise be considered as ‘overtime’ to make up for the shorter week, which may lead to burnout and stress.  

To determine if a four-day work week is practical for their sector and company culture, businesses must measure the benefits against the potential drawbacks. The majority of workers surveyed after their pilot programmes have expressed enthusiasm in working extra hours if it meant they’d receive a longer weekend, but for how long will the morale last? Only time will tell. 

Benefits of a 4-day week  

  • Improved work-life balance: The extra day off can be used for personal interests, hobbies or relaxation, running errands or spending time with loved ones.  
  • Attracting and keeping good employees: A shorter week at work can be an attractive perk for job-seekers and may help companies retain employees.  
  • Improved productivity: Employees return to work feeling motivated and more productive.  
  • Good for the environment: It cuts down on time and money spent on commuting.  
  • Cost savings: Companies may be able to save on electricity bills and office expenses.  

Words by: Saadiqah Schroeder
Photographs: Pexels  

Also read: What you need to know about later-life career changes

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