Could the 4-Day Work Week Become a Reality?

Shortening our time in the office of the future

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07/29/2022

Peter Mayhew

  

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There are many ways to define the working week. History, religion, and politics have all shaped a working week for as long as we’ve considered what one should look like. Depending on your place and perspective in todays’ global society, many have a calendar format based on a number of working days shaped into week format. Most countries adopt at least one day as a “weekend”. Interestingly, Henry Ford takes some responsibility for the introduction of a 40-hour working week spread over 5 days—a format that has prevailed in Western economies for around a century.

 

The pandemic forced the world to ask questions about work that were previously unthinkable. Why waste all that time, money, and energy commuting? Why do knowledge workers need to gather in one office to get work done? How can we communicate “face-to-face” without physically meeting? Working from home and hybrid working (some days in the office and some days at home) consequently became the new normal.

 

Society finally realized that we need to take more care with our planet and that waste (in all its forms) is a massive problem. Millions of people also realized there is more to life than the commute-work-sleep cycle. Leisure time is precious and important, too. This is especially true as mental health takes on new relevance due to rising stress levels that lead to burn-out.

 

Enter a not-for-profit community called 4 Day Week Global with the idea of trialing a 4-day work week, testing the 4-day work week concept as we all try to figure out work in a post-pandemic world. Supported by academics from a broad range of institutions and faculties, a trial is underway in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand with a clear objective: a 6-month trial of a 4-day week, with no loss in pay for employees and a focus on productivity.

 

Momentum is building, and the trial is well supported. In the US, over 60 companies have signed up; the UK trial has 70 companies on board with over 3,000 participating employees. These staff members commit to maintaining 100% of their workload for 80% of the working time and 100% of their pay. It’s known as the 100-80-100 model.

 

At Keypoint Intelligence, we were curious as we invest a lot of time in developing an understanding of the future of work. And so, our own litmus test was devised. A simple question on LinkedIn: Could you complete all your work in four days rather than five (with the same pay)? Of our 54 voters, 47 responded overwhelmingly—yes, they could. Only four said no, and the other three were undecided. Not especially scientific but, certainly indicative.

 

 

So, are many of us “skiving” or just coasting our way through our daily workload? Is technology making us less efficient than we could (or should) be? Is the constant focus on developing and implementing working processes to improve quality impacting on productivity? You can almost hear the screams from the C-Suite. But these are questions for greater minds and maybe the 4 Day Week Global trial will help to improve our understanding.

 

Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

There is one definite conclusion, though: Hybrid working is rapidly becoming a permanent feature of our working lives. And we are still figuring out what the future of work will look like. We will be watching this study closely—especially from a printing perspective. 

 

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