Over the past few years, the global labor market has seen dynamic changes of great significance. The issues range from the growing importance of soft skills over hard knowledge, the possibility of hybrid or fully remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, up to the increasing focus on maintaining a work-life balance. In terms of the latter trend, discussions about a 6-hour workday or 4-day workweek, respectively, have gained substantial recognition. What has prompted such considerations, and what are the pros and cons of both models? Read on to find out!
6-hour workday vs 4-day workweek – table of contents:
- Working time and employee efficiency
- Reducing working hours – how?
- Working week one day shorter
- Afternoon starting earlier
- 6-hour workday vs 4-day workweek? The decision is yours
Working time and employee efficiency
For some time now employees have voiced concern regarding overwhelming working hours, chiefly due to the restrictions they face when trying to manage free time (family, hobbies, leisure, personal development, etc.). On the other side of the barricade, however, some employers combine fewer mandatory working hours with fewer fulfilled duties, which in the long term means worse results for the company they run.
Still, many entities are noticing that employees are not fully efficient and productive throughout their working hours. Reducing working to a 6-hour workday or 4-day workweek – as indicated by the researchers conducting pilot studies – has a mobilizing effect, as it requires the employee to perform the same duties for the same salary, but in fewer hours. Contrary to criticism, reducing working hours increases productivity as indicated, for example, by data shared by the global brand Microsoft (up as much as 40%). What’s more, some companies are seeing less frequent vacations and sick leaves due to the ability of workers to allocate the saved time to rest.
Reducing working hours – how?
It is certain that in many respects reducing working hours benefits both the employee and the employer. Of course, this is not the case in every case (it all depends on the specifics of the company, the industry in which it operates, or the organizational culture), but the trend is growing and taken into consideration by more and more companies. Still, there is a dilemma – how to decide between reducing working to a 6-hour workday or a 4-day workweek? In making a choice, one should certainly look at the pros and cons of each solution, which we will outline below.
Working week one day shorter
- Employees will feel that you are giving them more credit – and this can translate into positive results in terms of the quality of tasks performed and commitment to work.
- One more day off per week will enhance work-life balance – employees confirm that a shorter work week means more opportunities to rest and relax with their favorite activities. As the result, after 3 days off, the employee comes rested and full of energy to perform his duties productively. That’s a clear win-win.
- Workers will be less likely to take a vacation and sick leave – by taking care of physical and mental health as well as all other important matters on their day off.
- Employers will see a reduction in costs – even when closing the office for just one more day a week.
- Operating 4 days a week, companies will become more attractive in the eyes of potential and existing employees (compared to competitors) – thus there will be greater ease of recruitment processes with less turnover in positions.
- Reducing working hours by one day may result in earning overtime – some employees need to work more than the standard 8 hours a day (i.e. extending the working day to 10 or 12 hours). Such a situation may hurt the well-being of employees (especially in terms of feelings of fatigue and stress), which a free Friday or Monday won’t eliminate. In such cases, the company isn’t going to achieve the expected productivity.
- One day of unavailability of a company’s employees may indicate more dissatisfied customers. Still, companies may tackle it by automating service processes (e.g. through chatbots or solutions provided by artificial intelligence in online stores).
- A 4-day work week will only work for some entities – some companies will not be able to close the entire office for one day a week due to the type of product or service being provided.
Afternoon starting earlier
- The longer we have to work, the less productive we become – this is undoubtedly the key benefit of a shortened workday. Having to perform the same number of duties in fewer hours results in greater productivity and motivation to work.
- “Do you only work 6 hours? I want that too.” – Reduced working hours are an ace up your sleeve when recruiting, especially attractive to generations Z and Alpha, who are about to saturate the market. Without a doubt, such employment terms build your competitiveness as a workplace in the eyes of candidates. What’s more, they deter existing employees from changing jobs due to their inability to receive such flexibility.
- Starting earlier in the afternoons is sure to become appreciated by those juggling between work and family life – adjusting to a partner, kindergarten or school hours and extracurricular schedules will become easier. Flexibility in this regard means better well-being for employees, which in turn brings about more productivity.
- Such a solution won’t suit every industry – for example, doctors, the social service sector, emergency workers, or even teachers, who depend to a significant extent on external factors to perform their duties.
- A shorter workday means being available to customers in fewer hours – and this can translate into losing them and moving to competitors who can get contacted during standard business hours or even longer. Such behavior may result in surrendering one’s position in the market to competitors.
- Distractions at work will happen to workers without regard to their working hours, whether it’s 4, 6, or 8 hours a day. There is always a certain amount of time spent talking to co-workers, using the phone, checking personal email, or even making coffee.
4 days a week or 6 hours a day? The decision is yours
Billing for results, not working time – this is not a song of the future, but a trend that is currently gaining importance and should not be ignored by a company that focuses on obtaining the best possible results, but at the same time cares about the physical and mental well-being of employees. The decision to introduce a 4-day week or a 6-hour workday should come primarily from the needs of the employees, the company’s organizational culture, or the specifics of the work and the industry. However, it is also crucial to recognize the aforementioned strengths and weaknesses of both solutions.