What could the four-day work week mean for workers?

If you’ve seen the news recently, you’ll have heard that 30 companies across the UK are trialling a four-day working week, with their employees still being paid 100% off their pay checks. Although it’s somewhat revolutionary in the UK’s working market, it’s been a success in Iceland, and is currently being trialled in Canada. With this almost too-good-to-be-true possibility upon us, we explore the benefits – and on the flip side, the potential challenges.
What are the best things about the four-day work week?
– Increased productivity. This is one that’s been trialled and tested through the pandemic – we’ve simply had no choice but to adapt to a new environment. Whilst many thought home-working would counter productivity, it was the opposite, as people were able to focus down with less distractions. The comfort of their surroundings further enhanced that, as well as many companies implementing a ‘half day Friday’ or shorter hours throughout the week as, consequentially, many were working harder. Friday is famously an unproductive occasion, people are tired and thinking about what plans they have over the days ahead. A more focused, short amount of time means workers are able to get their job done, and, more importantly, know when it’s going to end.
– Better mental health. Many of us can feel like our job is taking over our lives, especially as it takes over the majority of our week – with a two-day weekend just not feeling like enough time to switch off. By balancing the days of work vs the days off, it balances out the scales, and, in tandem, a better work-life balance is revealed as a result, something which we are all striving to.
– Aiding the economy – The return to the office may be coming soon, but one thing’s for sure – some realm of working from home will continue to exist. With us spending more money at home we may be saving, however it also means that less is being spent in local cafes, in restaurants, and when out. Whilst we aren’t encouraging an overindulgence in spending, it can be nice to treat ourselves to something that isn’t made at home, and an additional amount of freedom to be able to do that is somewhat of a luxury – one that we all deserve.
– More time – Perhaps the biggest benefit of all, the gift of the four-day work week means we, in turn will have more time. In a world that seems to reward individuals for being busy, in fact it’s so important to have time that’s spent on self-care. A whole day allows you to take up a new hobby, see loved ones, or simply spend a day relaxing on the sofa. However you may choose to use that time, see it as a benefit, one you can make the most of in your own, chosen way.
And the negatives…
– Setting boundaries. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced toxic work environments. Whilst we may have our specific contracted hours, often work may fall out of these boundaries, and with ‘less time’ to do so, there may be more pressure on employees to feel like you have to work beyond your normal remit. However, don’t bow under pressure – set your boundaries early to ensure this doesn’t happen.
– Could encourage lower salaries – Whilst current trials of the working week promise salaries will stay the same, could there be worry about what could happen in the future? Salaries are currently on the rise, which is positive – but at this point, any change is speculations.

Is not one-size-fits-all – The hope is that thousands of companies across the country will see the benefits of the four-day work week and take this up, however, it’s unknown whether everyone has the capacity to do this. To put together such an extreme change in the world of work there needs to be a sense of unanimity, it has to become common practise. If some companies sign up and others don’t, this could lead to a shortage of talent, as jobseekers will undoubtedly turn to the more flexible opportunities. Balance is key, and it’s only through trial and error we’re able to see this as a viable opportunity.