- Some businesses are allowing employees to work only four days a week to combat pandemic burnout, without salary deduction.
- Some of the companies that have adopted or are considering a four-day workweek are Unilever, Kickstarter, Buffer, Elephant Venture, Awin and Unito.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected the working lives and work patterns of most employees across the world. Due to lockdowns and excessive stress due to work-from-home schedule and long hours at work, many employees have reported emotional burnout affecting their productivity. Following the trend, many companies are considering shifting to a four-day workweek for full-time employees instead of the traditional five days, with no salary reduction in place.
According to the Office for National Statistics, one third of the employed population in the UK were working from home in 2020, which was around 10% more than in 2019.
The five-day work week has been part of the UK working life for more than a century, so an alternative is considered for balancing the work life. The weekend was invented in 1900s, and trade groups said that it will pamper employees and affect the work. It was suggested more regularly in recent years. Also, the Labour party suggested in the 2019 election for 32 hours of working in a week with no loss of pay. In the UK, a worker can’t work more than 48 hours in a week and for under 18 its 40 hours or eight hours a day.
In 2018, New Zealand’s financial services company Perpetual Guardian planned to shift its 240 employees from a five-day working to a four-day workweek with no reduction in pay. It reported that staff completed the same amount of work even after changes and the stress level reduced to 38% from 45%, while work-life balance scores increased to 78% from 54%.
Microsoft Japan adopted four days working in 2019 and saw productivity increased by 40%. According to a recent survey by Survation, 60% of the 2,000 people quizzed supported a four-day workweek and only 13% opposed it.
According to YouGov’s survey, 74% of employees believed that they can complete their five-day work target in four days and maintain good standard at work. The figure increased to 79% among millennials.
Here are some companies which have adopted or considering a four-day workweek:
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform to help creative projects. It announced that it would start adopting four-day workweek in 2022. However, it’s still doubtful that it would be applicable for all the employees or just a section of them.
Buffer is a social media software company. It reported in 2020 that it would experiment with 89 employees by giving them three days off and with no pay cut until the end of the year and made the move after testing a four-day workweek in May 2020.
The company found that there was no effect on the productivity and even employees are increasing their speed and output during the working days. Also, stress levels of the employees had decreased while their happiness levels increased.
Unilever is a global consumer goods business. It reported in November 2020 that it would experiment with 81 New Zealand employees with a four-day workweek until December 2021, without any pay cut.
The company said that it will look if the experiment gets successful and if it could work for over 1,55,000 employees globally.
- Elephant Venture
Elephant Venture is a software and data company. In August 2020, the company started a two-month experiment with a four-day work week due to the surge in pandemic related burnout and blurred work-life boundaries. However, the company used the 40-hour workweek, which means daily employees need to work for 10 hours from Monday to Thursday.
Awin is a global affiliate marketing network that empowers publishers and advertisers to grow their online presence. It is owned by Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer. It reported in February that it is going to adopt a permanent four-day workweek.
Unito is a workflow management solutions company. In October 2020, the company reported that it will let employees choose to work four days a week or if they want to work on weekends instead of weekdays.
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During the pandemic, most of the employees around the world were working from their home, which led to increase in stress level and burnout. Many businesses across the world started adopting a four-day workweek, which has many benefits such as it reduces costs for everyone, increases happiness of employees, reduces health issues, increases productivity, and recruitment and retention. On the flipside, this new workweek may not suit every business model and may lead to losses.