Increased productivity and enjoyment of work
Staff who don't feel drained and bored of work are going to be more productive. A recent study of 1,989 people showed that only three hours of an eight-hour working day (based upon a five-day working week) were productive hours. Staff find other ways to keep themselves 'busy' throughout the working week to break up the day. These include reading news, checking social media, having cigarette breaks and making teas.
Staff who feel more recharged from rest will engage more with their work and, as a result, become more productive. The Perpetual Guardian reported the same output from staff when they worked a 30-hour week compared to when they worked a 37.5 hour week.
More access to childcare
A four day week would allow both parents an additional day off per week to spend with their children, reducing childcare costs and helping them share the responsibilities evenly.
Reduced stress and anxiety
Staff members who work a four day week have reported feeling less stressed and anxious as a result. A trial by the Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand found that, after trialling a four-day-working-week, staff stress levels reduced from 45% to 38%. In the same trial, positive work-life balance increased drastically from 54% to 78% amongst staff members.
More time to spend with family and friends
The benefits of working less are obvious, and what you do with your extra day off is entirely optional. However, more time to socialise outside of the office environment is one of the more popular benefits. Whether it's spending time with your family or going out with your friends, it's all beneficial to producing a better work-life balance. Dana Stoddart from Brett Nicholls Associates, a four day week accountancy firm based in Glasgow, says it’s great “for people with families and it's good to have time free to focus on other parts of our lives, such as studying, hobbies or socialising”
Time for life admin
Dana also believes an extra day off can be important for “life admin”. Something many people agree with. With the whole week consumed by work it leaves very little personal time, something we at Four Day Week believe is important. A 'personal day' can allow you to catch up on laundry, food-shopping, appointments etc. leaving your weekends free for more enjoyable activities.
Closing the gender pay gap
Paid and unpaid work is currently unequally distributed. The five-day-week model we currently abide by encourages women to take up caring responsibilities after they have children, hampering their career progression and leading to disparities in earnings. Mothers who then return to work are often penalised with lower paid and lower status roles as result of often needing to work fewer hours.
The fact that the gender pay gap is already in place before parents have children only reinforces the need for the father to return to work full-time rather than the mother due to the financial equation of earning more money.
A four day week could help redistribute paid and unpaid work between men and women, allowing for both parents to be able to commit to one day of childcare without taking a pay cut and, at the same time, staying on the same level as their colleagues. This would allow for much more autonomy for mothers in the decision of returning to work.
With a four day week, available employment could be spread out to reduce unemployment and underemployment.
A four day week could help save our environment. It reduces CO2 emissions from less commuting as well as energy usage in offices. An study in the US State of Utah in 2008 showed that by working a four day week for an entire month reduced the amount of CO2 emitted from commuting and office energy by 12,000 metric tons. This was the case for 17,000 of the states employees, imagine the benefits if it was universal.
More productive staff
There have been several trials of a four day working weeks where companies have reported staff and productivity levels increased as a result of reducing the weekly hours. The Perpetual Guardian is one which shows that output was the same working 30 hours a week rather than 37.5. Another company which has a four day week, every week, is Normally who have reported happier, healthier and more productive staff members as a result of a shorter working week.
Interestingly, in spite of the fewer working hours, companies who have trialled a four day working week have reported increased profits as a result of their staff being more productive. Pursuit Marketing, a Glasgow based Marketing Agency, reported profits were up 29.5% in two years, something which has mainly been attributed to working a four day week rather than the more common five day working week.
Fewer staff absences
Due to staff having a better work-life balance and more time to recharge their batteries at the weekend there have also been reports of much lower levels of staff sickness. In 2017/18, an estimated 15.4 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related stress. A four day week could help reduce the number of employee absences, providing them with much needed downtime to de-stress after their working weeks. Recent studies suggest employees believe a four-day-working-week enables them to manage their work-life balance better.
Reduced energy usage in offices
A four day week would reduce the amount of CO2 emitted as a result of commuting and, combined with the reduction of energy use in the office, would massively reduce the amount of energy consumption associated with a five day working week.