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How to bag a 4-day working week

Thanks to the 58 people who completed our poll to ask whether a 4-day working week is just around the corner. The outcome suggests that the majority of people believe that their organisations are willing to move to a 4-day week. See the poll here.

Our observations on the subject are:

If your organisation operates a traditional working week or a shortened week policy you’re happy with – that’s great.

We think the most likely source of conflict is a desire for individuals to want to move to a 4-day week, when the organisation has no appetite for it. There may be logical reasons for the reluctance – the way in which the supply chain operates, shift work pattern demands, customer experience and/or expectations etc.

There may be other reasons though that could be open to challenge in a proactive way. If you want to try and challenge the status quo, play the long game - look to suggest change with a suitable amount of time needed to make the necessary adjustments.

  • Think social proof - highlight the positive responses from other employers and their employees in those that have made the change. What light would this shine on your business? (From the BBC article Four-day week 'an overwhelming success' in Iceland, the Reykjavik City Council and national government showed productivity mostly either stayed the same or improved.)

  • Authority – quote the data from successful trials (in addition to Iceland, companies in New Zealand and Spain are also undertaking trials)

  • Commitment & Consistency – is it possible to set up a time-limited trial?

  • Ask the right questions, things like ‘under what circumstances’, ‘what would we need to do’

  • Trade. If needs be, are there concessions (hopefully small to you; valuable to them) you could make which might make it acceptable?

Of course, changing to a 4-day working week could have a knock-on effect on promoting other flexible options that support those with caring responsibilities such as job sharing or part time work. In February this year, Indeed’s ‘Finding a Job’ guide listed 16 Part Time Jobs That Pay Well - frankly, many don’t pay well (and aren’t very inspiring either).

So if part-time and job sharing options becoming more attractive to employers, it could promote increased rates of pay for roles requiring quality candidates (typically currently paid at lower rates). Now that’s a conflict for another day….

Sam Macbeth, 20th July 2021

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