The 4-day work week: Will it work for your business?

It’s no secret that workplace flexibility is evolving quickly. A 2022 UK trial with 60+ companies across various industries tested 4-day work weeks (shared days off, staggered schedules, compressed weeks) with full pay. It led to reduced stress, better work-life balance for employees, and a 57% decrease in turnover and 1.4% revenue growth for businesses. Inspired by this, some Australian business have started to trial the model, with a third of companies expecting a 4-day week within 5 years (as per Oct 2023 article).

What is a 4-day work week?

Imagine ditching the traditional Monday-to-Friday grind and enjoying a three-day weekend every week! That's the essence of the 4-day workweek: a work model where employees clock in for four days instead of five, with no pay cut.

This can be structured in two main ways:

  • Compressed week: Staff work a set number of hours (often 32) spread across 4 days, potentially requiring some adjustments to daily workloads.
  • Condensed week: Businesses continue with a 40-hour week and condense the week to 4 days with 10-hour work shifts.
When it comes to leave, a full 4-day week must be worked to qualify for regular leave entitlements. This ensures fairness and avoids any potential manipulation of the system.

Key components:

Opt-in flexibility: Offer the 4-day option to cater to individual needs.

Focus on efficiency: Set clear goals and guidelines to maintain productivity in a shorter timeframe.

Teamwork and communication: Create a published schedule to ensure team coverage, with everyone working at least one common day to maintain collaboration.

Buddy system: Implement a buddy system for colleagues to cover tasks during absences.

Keep clients informed: Inform clients in advance about scheduled days off to ensure smooth communication, supported by clear procedures for who to contact in their absence.

Measuring what matters:

Track your success: Monitor key metrics like revenue, performance, and client satisfaction to assess the impact. It is essential to maintain or exceed financial goals.
Employee feedback: Conduct surveys and open discussions to gauge staff experience and well-being.

Maximising productivity in 4 Days:

Clear goals: Set clear, role-specific KPIs and track them weekly.
Ownership matters: Those taking leave must assign tasks clearly and ensure a smooth handover.
Results-oriented: Focus on achieving goals, not just clocking in hours.

Potential benefits of the 4-day work week:

Improved work-life balance: With an extra day off, staff can prioritise personal well-being and reduce stress. In the UK trial, businesses reported a 65% decrease in the number of sick days taken.
Enhanced mental health: More time for rest and self-care can lead to a happier and healthier workforce.
Increased focus and attention: A shorter workweek may lead to sharper focus during working hours.
Retention and attraction: This could be a key point of difference to entice staff to join your business or stay within the business.

5 challenges to consider:

The real estate industry can be fast-paced and demanding, so implementing a 4-day work week presents some unique challenges.

Maintaining productivity: Fitting a full workload into 4 days may require adjustments to avoid burnout and ensure staff meet deadlines.
Client service delivery: Real estate businesses need to ensure consistent client coverage and clear communication despite fewer workdays.
Staffing and scheduling: Creative scheduling and/or additional staff may be required to facilitate weekend opens and tight deadlines.
Communication and collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are crucial with fewer in-office days. Utilise technology and plan meetings strategically.
Employee preferences: Not all staff might embrace a 4-day week. Consider preferences and explore alternative flexibility options.

The final verdict:

Only time will tell if the 4-day workweek is successful and effective for businesses to implement. The potential for a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce is exciting. Who wouldn't be excited about a workforce that is feeling good, taking care of themselves, and knocking out their work delivering strong results?

The 4-day work week: Will it work for your business?