Would a 4-day work week be good for the UK?

9th August 2019

An evolution in technology appears to have coincided with an increase in a white-collar workforce - manual labour is being replaced by autonomous systems and more administrative roles have grown. As a result, flexible working has become more commonplace, as has working from home.

In countries such as The Netherlands, the 4-day work week has already been implemented. But is it viable and could it work here in the UK?

How does the 4-day work week work?

In its simplest of terms, a 4-day working week is when a business pays its staff for a full 5-day work week, however, staff will only work 4 of the 5 days.

It is usually the case these businesses shut on a Friday, so staff aren't expected to work or they may remain open the full 5 days. The employees will then likely choose a day off in the week - perhaps liaising with colleagues or referring to a rota.

Are there any benefits to businesses?

If you're a business owner, particularly a small business, then you may wonder whether there are any benefits to the 4-day week. This could be a tough pill to consider, if you're paying staff to work on that topical 5th day.

The idea of a 4-day work encourages staff to spend more time on themselves, with friends and families. It's been suggested that the additional time off helps to improve mental wellbeing, which in return supports work productivity and reduces the number of sick days.

What about the economy?

So, what about the impact of the 4-day working week on the wider UK economy? Well, it can have a positive effect wider than just for businesses. It is thought it may support gender equality in the workplace - the additional day off allows women to enter back into work rather than solely focusing on their childcare.

It may also encourage more people to return to work who are currently unemployed as businesses are putting their staff members first in their running. Not only this, but it can also ensure that those businesses that have a more 7-day operation - such as gyms or leisure centres - have more customers. Especially since those who have a day off a week are likely to use it in indulging in some 'me' time.

There aren't any assurances the UK will adopt a 4-day work week anytime soon, and whilst there's little data to support, it's difficult to pinpoint the affect it may have on the economy. However, there's no denying it would be useful for employees to use the time on themselves and their loved ones.

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