Working nine to five has become a conditioned way of life where a five-day working week has become the norm. But with the rise of start-up entrepreneurs and freelances planning their work schedules around their personal commitments, is it time that we ditch the traditional working week all together?
While many companies talk about enrolling on a four-day working week, Microsoft Japan actually tested out the concept with surprising results. Conducting a recent one-month experiment, Microsoft Japan said its productivity increased by 40%. According to the Microsoft Japan, they were able to increase productivity by giving it’s 2,300 full-time employees a paid day off on Fridays. The one-month experiment also saw meetings being capped to a maximum length of 30 minutes with employees saying they found an increase in job satisfaction and lower stress levels. Microsoft Japan has since reverted back to a five-day working week but may look to conducting another four-day working week within the next year.
In the UK, the Labour Party have continued their pledge to reduce the average working week to 32 hours a week within the next decade if they are successful in the upcoming general election, as financial and job sector experts claim the reduced working week would cost the taxpayer at least £17 billion a year due to the impact on the public sector wage bill.
How would a four-day week affect workers?
So, in a hypothetical situation scenario in which Jeremy Corbyn were to be the UK Prime Minster, just how would a four-day week actually work? Well, according to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, a four-day week would mean “A shorter working week with no loss of pay” which would also see an increase in public holidays under a Labour Government.
But while a four-day working week sounds like a utopia for employees across the UK, in theory there are a lot of pitfalls, most noticeably the negative impact on unskilled workers and care workers on zero-hours who need the hours to get paid. Having a reduced working week may result in workers becoming reliant on Government handouts and benefits if the hours, they are able to work become capped. And while a reduced working week may sound undemanding, there will still be tasks that need to be completed. Tasks that once required a full working week to complete. This would mean that staff may have to work longer hours throughout the day to make up for the loss of time.
One shoe fit all?
While some industries may be able to adapt to a four-day working week over time, other sectors such as Uber and the retail and hospitality industry would inevitably suffer as workers are forced to continue to work longer and often unpredictable hours. Door Supervisors and Security Guards who often work as self-employed contractors may also find themselves working longer hours as the industries they work in such as the entertainment and retail industry completely change to adept to the four-day working week.
Nevertheless, this scenario doesn’t seem to faze most Britons, as according to YouGov data, 63% of worker support a four-day full-time working week. However, a report commissioned by Labour Party cross-bench peer Robert Skidelsky highlighted that a four-day working week would not be “realistic or even desirable”. This is in stark contrast to the four-day working week speech that Shadow Chancellor recently gave in the 2019 Labour Party conference party which has since become part of the Labour Party’s manifesto going into the upcoming general elections.
What Get Licensed Says
Would a four-day working week actually work? The answer is that nobody really knows for sure. While some industries would be able to adapt to the four-day working week, other sectors would ultimately find it difficult and end up forcing people to work less with lower wages and fewer opportunities. Workers should feel empowered to be able to make decisions that best suit them, and that included not capping them on the number of hours they work and the money that they can earn.