Four Days Working Week Global Shift Work Culture

Four Days Working Week: A Shift in Global Work Culture?

Work culture across the globe has seen a tremendous shift from the pandemic and to the great resignation. It opened ways of working that were unthinkable just a few years ago. While there has been a major upheaval in the companies’ function, most countries have yet to decide upon how the work future holds.

2021 saw some interesting labor statistics in the face of pandemic and most of it is attributed to the effects of the pandemic and employees valuing work-life balance.

Some insights at a glance

Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a report on “Who is driving the great resignation?” and from the root cause analysis it was found that: 

  1. Resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees. There have been strikingly increased resignations between the employees of the age group of 30-45. One of the facts attributed to mid-career personnel resigning has been attributed to shifting to remote working, which created the additional demand for mid-level roles as companies aren’t eager to hire entry-level positions for they need to be trained, hence giving leverage to the mid-career employees to secure new positions.
  2. Resignations are highest in the tech and healthcare industry. Tech and healthcare industry saw major upheaval with resignation increased by 4.5 % and 3.6% from the previous year. The same can be attributed to the increased burnout and workload.

Additional to the insights, HBR provided the steps to increase retention by efficiently leveraging data. Following are the HBR’s recommendations:

  1. Quantify the problem - use empirical relations to understand the problem.
  2. Identify the root cause - deduce the relation to get the pain areas for the organisation.
  3. Develop the tailored retention program - lastly, develop the strategy using the results from the above analysis.

Creating retention policies adapting to the data is pivotal in pressing present times. While the whole retention process advised may be tedious and cumbersome, the current market situation demands it, hence it is worth the effort from companies end.

Global response

Reuters article on “Longer Weekends Are The Next Economic Battleground” provides a few case studies on the global scenario in which countries are shifting to flexible and shorter workweeks.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has implemented a shorter workweek policy to four and half days to better align with the work schedule of the other country, shifting weekends from Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday, with weekends starting from Friday noon. The idea behind the step is that better-rested employees equate to better productive hours at work, making up for the shorter weekend.

Japan, which is known to follow long working hours and the same is taken for strong work ethics, has begun to change its stance on its work culture. Overworked and stressed employees have committed suicide or suffered other health-related issues in the past. Companies in Japan have started overhauling the core work policies and are becoming more committed to employee benefits while reimagining the office as a place for communication, collaboration, brainstorming, reconnecting, and having that ability to maybe have a deeper conversation that you just can't achieve online.

According to Asiaone, Spanish high-end apparel company Desigual introduced the 4-day workweek, citing a 6.5% pay cut for a 13% reduction in working hours to which the employees overwhelmingly agreed. The step in this direction has raised business and political expectations across European Union.

History and future of work and off days

HBR report also brings insight upon the practise of providing employees two official days off dates back to the early 1930s, during the Great Depression. John Maynard Keynes predicted at the same time that future productivity advances will allow people to work no more than 15 hours each week. Our rising demands for material amenities were underestimated by economists. Covid-19, on the other hand, has encouraged some people to reconsider that compromise. Longer weekends, if the UAE is correct, may in the future be as appealing to international employees as lower taxes.

Is a 4-day work the way ahead?

The work culture saw structural change in present times with less number of working hours, meetings, flexible workplaces, proving not only to be employee-centric but also economically sound and efficient in a way.

Response to 4-day work is not area specific but across the globe. More countries are envisaging such policy for their work organisations. 

However, still, at the nascent stage, the readiness of such policy will take its due course of time to be completely covered globally.

Also read top viewed Ai Legal article: The Role of AI in Legal Research.

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