Friday 21 January 2022 – La Minute Monocle

Opinion / Genevieve Bates

Work package

Work less for the same pay? Sounds good for employees and painful, even ruinous, for employers. Yet 30 UK businesses yesterday started a six-month trial of a four-day working week. It follows ostensibly successful pilots involving public sector workers in Iceland and by Microsoft Japan, which claims productivity increased by 40% when it followed suit for a period in 2019. Various studies also suggest that worker efficiency, concentration and stress levels improve. ; they take fewer sick days and report higher job satisfaction. But what about the customers, partners and customers of these companies? Has anyone thought to ask them?

No workplace is an island. While it is right that, except in an emergency, work should not encroach on family time and leisure, fixed working hours should also be in tune with your business or professional environment. Just ask the United Arab Emirates, which recently moved from its traditional Friday-Saturday public holidays to a Western-style Saturday-Sunday weekend, to do business better with the non-Arab world. And that’s where the dream of a four-day week falls through: maintaining external relationships and internal culture relies on a model where everyone works roughly the same days and hours. Disappearing for a fifth of the conventional week is infuriating for people outside your company, when colleagues who replace each other would at best waste time doing stints and at worst turn us all into interchangeable shift workers.

Having reduced a full-time job to four days at one point in my career, I can testify that it was a very long and stressful four days and that the fifth day of “off” was often interrupted by work. It should also be noted that the Monday-Friday work model itself was hard won by unions in the early 20th century. So while retail, hospitality and emergency services still operate for all seven days, perhaps the rest of us should cherish the rhythm of a five-day week. Your customers will also thank you.

About Juana Jackson

Check Also

Israeli ‘road charging’ start-up is well on its way to a project at Bergamo Airport in Milan

Israeli company Electreon, whose technology is embedded in roads to allow electric vehicles to recharge …