The concept of the 4-day workweek has been a much mulled over idea for a decade now. If we're being honest, who hasn't felt like a Thursday was more of Friday? Who wouldn't want an extra day to sort out our affairs and recharge?
It's the dream come true for many employees working the 9-to-5 grind and another impractical plea from a generation that 'doesn't know how the world works. Because a 4-day workweek asks companies to allow employees to work less for 100% of their salary, employers are still a little apprehensive about how effective it is. But that shouldn't be the takeaway.
It's not working less but working better. Smarter, if you will, and not associating productivity with longer hours.
Asia has reached a level of notoriety for its long and grueling working hours, all in an effort to push for a fully utilized workforce. We're severely overworked. But in recent years, that has seen a change.
From employees pushing for more mental health awareness in the working environment to finding themselves working better with the remote working option, the 4-day workweek seems like the next natural step to take to avoid a burnt out populous.
A recent study done in Singapore found that 7 out of 10 employees would prefer a 4-day workweek in the hopes that it will bring better work-life balance. Along with Singapore, several firms in Japan, India, and Indonesia have already implemented their own 4-day workweek measure.
Malaysia is not far behind, having announced that come the 1st of September 2022, the weekly working hours will go from 48 to 45 hours; a good start but this shouldn't be where improvements to come to a halt.
To Be Or Not To Be Productive
Several firms who have taken to 4-day workweeks reported increased productivity amongst their employees stemming from cutting down not just the hours, but from reorganizing the internal structure of how they worked.
By reducing the frequency of meetings from a daily occurrence to once a week huddle or setting a specific time to deal with emails, employees can focus on their jobs and ensure they get their work done during the specified working hours.
This and several other tweaks in the system give companies the push they need to adopt healthier working habits and enforce an environment that values their employees' time, both professional and personal.
Though this doesn't solve the problem of workplace happiness, this leaves room for other improvements that may qualm the rising number of resignations brought on by the pandemic and job satisfaction.
It's Better For The Environment (Sort Of)
While we're all aware of the benefits a 4-day work week brings to overall employee morale, there's an environmental side to this that we don't hear about as much. Experts believe that by cutting down working hours, we in turn lower our carbon footprint based on prior studies that linked the two.
The idea behind this is that by reducing working hours by a day's worth, employers would be using less energy to run their operations and employees would save on commuting to the workplace thus cutting down on emissions by a minor but just as significant percentage if practiced consistently.
While a number of companies across the globe have trialed how a 4-day workweek could work for them, with positive results to back it up, this differ according to the type of industry that incorporates it, leaving us to consider if we’re ready for a 4-day workweek at our own place of work.
Fast-paced industries such as the medical, banking and manufacturing sector actually require the constant productivity and efficiency of their workers and might not be able to afford a day out of work. In the case of client-servicing firms, this could mean added stress to employees who now need to work double-time or overtime to ensure everything is covered in those 4 days.
Though it's not to say that the 4-day work week is by far perfect, it's a necessary step towards improving the conditions we work under and foster a sense of work-life balance for many who find themselves on the brink of burnout.
If we are to fully accept a society where the option of a 4-day workweek is to be the norm, it needs to be implemented with some level of flexibility and in a case-by-case situation.
While we're still in the early stages of implementing these changes, it's a step towards what could mean better working conditions. In an era where people are starting to invest in ambitions that call to their interests, a new way of working could help manage burnout and other issues that stem from a stressful workplace.