You work 4 days a week, the rest 3 days. Work only 32 hours of the original 40 hours per week without cutting your pay or canceling your work benefits. The result is an efficient employee and a satisfied boss. If you live in Iceland or Belgium, this is a reality. Will we see a 4-day working week in other European countries as well?

Thanks to the 4-day working week, employees devote more time to their families, hobbies, and volunteering. They are more productive and happier at work (and outside of it). A 4-day working week seems positive for an employee, but do employers feel the same way? Can companies measure the efficiency and productivity of their people? Can managers evaluate whether performance in reduced working hours will bring the same finances to the company? Excel is no longer enough for that.

Where is the 4-day work week no longer just a fairy tale?

Iceland, Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand, Great Britain, and more. In these countries, the introduction of a 4-day working week was tested across different industries and with a different sample of employees. All pilot projects were evaluated positively, and high efficiency and happier employees were repeated in the final reports. 

Positive responses from the countries involved

The pioneer of the 4-day working week is the island of Iceland. It was continuously tested between 2015 and 2019. Roughly 1% of the total workforce, which is more than 2,500 employees, participated in the project. Police officers, school staff, and the mayor’s office, mostly the public sector. Research director Will Stronge told the BBC: This study shows that the world’s biggest trial of a shorter working week in the public sector to date has been, by all accounts, a resounding success.”

The implemented pilot project created pressure on the competent, and thanks to it, today 86% of Icelandic workers work 4 days a week or have the right to request it.

In June of this year, they launched a pilot project of a 4-day working week in cooperation with the research agency Autonomy in Great Britain. Even though the project is only halfway through, the feedback is positive. More than 70 organizations and 3,300 employees from various industries are involved. Among the participants, you will find a brewery, a bank, and a local fish shop.

4-day work week even in the country of workaholics

Executive Japanese are expected to work beyond official working hours. Alternatively, they will take their work home. The exception in the land of workaholics is Panasonic. The Japanese company values the mental and physical health of its employees so much that it allows them to choose a 4-day work week. By introducing it, managers at Panasonic aim to increase the efficiency, diligence, and happiness of their employees.

Japan’s Microsoft also reported excellent results in the pilot project of the 4-day work week. They achieved a year-on-year productivity increase of 40%. President and CEO of Microsoft Japan Takuya Hirano said about the 4-day work week: “Work short, rest well, and learn a lot. I want employees to think and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.”

For Japanese companies oriented to extra performance, the introduction of a 4-day work week is very unconventional and groundbreaking. Would they go for it if it wasn’t worth it? They found an unequivocal answer in the results of productivity and happiness of their employees.

Advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day workweek

The 4-day working week model brings with it advantages and disadvantages from the point of view of the employer and the employee. (this entire part should be processed graphically in a table)

Positive for the employee

  • More time for family and hobbies
  • Lower transport costs to work
  • Optimal balance between work and private life
  • The same salary for a smaller number of hours worked
  • Improvement of physical and mental health

Positive for the employer

  • Higher employee productivity
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Happy employees
  • Lower energy costs
  • Greater interest and demand for work in the company
  • Stronger employee health
  • Environmental impact (fewer commutes, lower electricity consumption)

Negative for both the employee and the employer

  • Not suitable for every business model
  • Necessary strict measurement of efficiency and productivity of employees
  • If employees have a different day of the week free, it is more difficult to coordinate teamwork

Measuring efficiency and productivity is key

To introduce and correctly evaluate the 4-day work week, it is inevitable to measure the productivity of employees and the effectiveness of this work model. Especially if you bill your services to a third party. A shortened work week can significantly increase an employee’s hourly rate. More simply, the cost of a 4-hour work week is lost in the invoicing if the price for the project is estimated as a whole, regardless of the number of hours worked.

In the advertising world, the evaluation of the project as a whole for the positions of marketing executive or DTP graphic artist is rather unrealistic. There the hours are clearly given. It makes sense at a price for a strategist or creative person, where it is difficult to estimate the time of his creation. Practical is a tool in which employees not only schedule, plan and measure their work, but also software in which company management evaluates the productivity of employees in a 4-day work week. Alfred can handle it.

Not only more time off, but also cost savings

A 4-day work week brings more physical and mental health to the work team. This can ultimately be reflected in reduced turnover in the company. Also on the further saving of costs that would arise in the case of searching for and training a new workforce. Because satisfied employees do not leave work. This working model is also a magnet for high-quality seniors. They can do in 1 hour what a junior can do in three. This represents another cost saving for the company. Similar to paid sick days, which will certainly be fewer with a 4-day work week. And there will also be no need for an extra paid holiday.

Discipline and efficiency in the first place

A work week that lasts 32 hours will not work without effective planning of human capacities. It is essential that the manager or company owner has a perfect overview of the scope of work, the capacity of employees, and their workload. Discipline and efficiency, which he can control, are key for the employer. Software for planning, management, or finance lends a helping hand. Working with him is a must when introducing a 4-day work week.