I was never top of the class, but even I know five into four just does not fit!

It was music to my ears to hear Apple's chief executive tell his staff they'll be required to come into the office a couple of times a week.

I was never top of the class

It was music to my ears to hear Apple’s chief executive tell his staff they’ll be required to come into the office a couple of times a week. Many companies have been tip toeing around this topic as they want to give their employees what they want after such a tough year. 

Hybrid working has now become the ‘norm’, with major banks such as HSBC and Lloyds now confirming it’s how they plan to work moving forward, but a new work-related idea has started to gain traction – the four-day working week!

At a time when the world has been hit by a deadly virus that’s devastated global economies, resulting in redundancies and the UK’s worst recession in 300 years, the last thing we need is a four-day working week. The economy shrunk by 4.4 per cent in 2020, according to the IMF, so our focus surely needs to shift to re-building it. And the way to build up the economy certainly ain’t working less!

Profits also need to be made

Employee wellbeing is a key business priority and will help to create a happy workforce, but it shouldn’t trump a business’s main aim which is to be lucrative and pay its workers a consistent salary. Bosses are the decision makers for a reason and decisions shouldn’t be made to win a popularity contest, but to keep the business profitable.

Issues with a shorter working week

A four-day working week may, in theory, help improve employee wellbeing, but we need to remember that a short week does not mean a smaller workload. A four-day working week will just mean fitting five days’ worth of work into four. Is it worth being stressed out your mind just to be able to enjoy a three-day weekend? 

I think not, and I think a four-day week will actually hurt employee wellbeing! Staff will end up working Sunday night just to get the job done, meaning work/home life will become even more blurred.

A shorter week will also impact work culture ‘ there will be less of a buzz in the office as less people will be in. Work will become less collaborative and social. A shorter working week will also impact the little cafes and city pubs that use to be filled with office workers spilling onto the pavement post 5:30pm. They’ll lose a lot of business and, after a difficult 16 months, may not survive.

This four-day working week idea stems from business leaders wanting to prioritise staff wellbeing in the new world of work, but there are other, less damaging ways to do this.

Four-day week VS employee incentives

Supporting employee wellbeing through benefits and perks is just one way. At Pimlico Plumbers we host summer BBQs on the roof terrace, have a free gym, a massage lady and give our worker’s bonuses to show we care about them. Unique workplace benefits will not only improve staff wellbeing, but also lead to your staff enjoying work and help with staff retention. A four-day working week is just another demand employees are making without actually giving the concept some thought.

Four-day weeks sound blissful but they’re not sustainable. What businesses need now more than ever is to start making money again and employers need job security and routine. We need to be encouraging people to go to work, not planting the idea that people are working too much. And employers need to incentivise workers and make them feel valued by giving them adequate and useful work perks, not a shorter working week.

Charlie Mullins
Charlie Mullins

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