Digitisation

The 4-day week: Paradigm shift in the world of work?

A (no longer quite so) new approach to work is increasingly gaining popularity and seems to challenge the way we work: The 4-day week - paradigm shift or flash in the pan?

The 4-day week: Paradigm shift in the world of work?

The world of work is facing major challenges, especially in terms of shortages of skilled workers and the strain on employees. To counteract these problems, the discussion on shorter working hours has gained more and more momentum. In particular, the 4-day week has received increased attention in recent years and has been positively evaluated in various pilot projects. But: What conditions are necessary to implement a 4-day week? What are the advantages and disadvantages for employees and employers? In this blog post we would like to explore these questions in detail.

Implementation of the 4-day week - potentials

Will the traditional 5-day week soon be a thing of the past? This is the question that the Hans Böckler Foundation in May and asked more than 2,500 employees for their opinion. The Results of this survey wave show that 80 per cent of full-time workers would like a 4-day week. However, the majority of employees (just under 73 per cent) would still like to receive the same wage. However, only eight per cent of the respondents would agree to a lower wage. About 17 percent said they were satisfied with their current working time model of a 5-day week. And 2 per cent of the full-time employees surveyed reported that they already follow a 4-day week.

According to the survey, the reasons for wanting a 4-day week are manifold. The main reason is the desire for more free time - i.e. a better work-life balance. This reason is mentioned by almost all respondents. The opportunity to have more time for the family or to pursue hobbies and voluntary activities are also important motivations for a shorter working week. In addition, the respondents expect a lower workload from a 4-day week. Pilot projects - like this - have already shown that by adapting work processes, both individual well-being and company productivity can be increased. This in turn has a positive effect on employees' motivation to work. A better work-life balance can also help employees stay longer in the company and reduce turnover.

4-day week - advantages in the modern working world

A 4-day week offers a number of benefits for both employees and employers. Arguably, one of the most important benefits is an improved work-life balance. A shortened work week gives employees more free time to spend on personal matters, recreation, family time or hobbies. This can lead to higher satisfaction and a happier work environment overall. In addition, it is argued that shorter work weeks can increase productivity. When workers have less time to complete their tasks, they are often more motivated, focused and efficient. Another positive effect of a shortened work week (and thus longer recovery time) is the potential reduction of sick leave. With a better work-life balance and a reduced workload, workers can reduce stress and recover better physically and mentally.

In addition to the benefits for workers, a 4-day week can also have a positive impact on the environment. A reduced working week reduces commuting and energy consumption, as workers have to travel to work one day less per week. Traffic emissions and resource consumption are thus reduced, even if only slightly in some cases.

For employers, even if it seems unlikely at first, a 4-day week also offers benefits that can contribute to a positive work environment and efficient company performance. Employee motivation and morale can be increased by offering employers the option of a shortened working week. In addition, this option makes companies more attractive to new applicants. After all, flexible working time models and a good work-life balance are becoming increasingly important to employees. A shorter working week can help position the company as an attractive employer and help attract talented professionals and - most importantly - keep them in the company!

However, when introducing a 4-day week, employers must also take into account various challenges, such as the need for effective scheduling and ensuring adequate coverage during working hours. It is important that a careful assessment of operational needs and proper planning take place to ensure that a 4-day week is beneficial for both the company and the employees. The issue of timekeeping plays a consistent role here, as it does in a 5-day week. With a Flexible time recording systemHowever, with a system such as ZEP, you can individually adjust working and break times to your working mode - and still remain on the safe side legally.

Operational requirements for a 4-day week

To ensure a successful implementation of a 4-day week, certain operational requirements are necessary. Flexibility in the organisation of working time is of great importance in order to meet the individual needs of the workforce. Flexible working time accounts or flexitime arrangements can be used for this purpose. With the right Software for working time recording and planning however, this is not a problem! At the same time, workflows should be designed in such a way that the shortening of the working week does not have a negative impact on productivity and workflow. An efficient Task and project planning and clear communication play a central role here.

And what about human resources? A reduction in working hours can lead to a higher workload per working day. Therefore, it is of great importance to have enough staff to actually manage the workload. This can be achieved by hiring new staff, redistributing tasks or using freelancers. A efficient resource planning is indispensable here.

Without leadership, the 4-day week is not possible! Managers play a crucial role in the implementation. They should support the reduction of working hours, adapt work processes and help employees to cope with new challenges. This can only be done with an efficient tool: open communication! It is important to communicate the benefits, challenges and opportunities of a 4-day week clearly and transparently. Employees should therefore be involved in the decision-making process and have the opportunity to clearly express their needs and concerns. At the latest then it will become clear whether this working time model is suitable for companies or not. The implementation should therefore always be oriented towards the specific operational circumstances. Because: The 4-day week is not equally suitable or feasible for all sectors.

Criticism, concerns & challenges of the 4-day week

Despite all the positive arguments, there are of course also multi-layered challenges and concerns related to the introduction of a 4-day week. One major criticism is the potential impact on the economy. Some experts warn that a shortened working week could lead to a decline in productivity and financial burdens for companies. In addition, jobs could be at risk, as fewer working hours could possibly result in fewer job offers. In general: Depending on one's point of view, all the above-mentioned advantages could also be viewed from different sides as points of criticism.

The employers' association BDA vehemently rejects current demands for a 4-day week with full wage compensation as an unrealistic idea. But: The federation is in favour of an individual solution at company level and is in favour of making labour law more flexible. However, a reduction of weekly working hours is out of the question in the current economic situation. Another aspect that needs to be considered and is often criticised is the adaptation of work processes and the organisation of work. Companies might have to adapt their structures, working time models and processes in order to effectively implement a 4-day week. This requires careful planning and possibly investments in technology and automation to increase efficiency and fully realise all the benefits of a shortened working week. Most importantly, a 4-day week is simply not possible in all sectors. It is difficult to implement in the service sector or in healthcare, for example, as these industries require round-the-clock services. This can be challenging and lead to an unequal distribution of benefits or disadvantage certain professions or sectors.

However, despite all the criticism, it is up to each company to decide in which mode the workforce is employed - presence, remote, full-time, part-time. Ultimately, the employer and the employee decide in which period of time the work is done. Provided that all legal provisions regarding applicable labour law are complied with. You don't want to miss any news and always want to stay up to date on the topic of labour law, time recording & Co. Then you are welcome to subscribe to Register here for our monthly newsletter.

Tanja Hartmann CEP

Tanja Hartmann

Content Marketing Manager at ZEP

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