4 day working weeks – the working future?

4 day working weeks - the future

I’m sure that if you are reading this article you would have already heard most of the benefits and studies that are circling around, stating why a four-day week is great for staff morale and the overall running of your business.

Many companies are taking to the four-day working week as an attempt to offer a healthy work, life balance for their staff and increase productivity. There have been predictions of corporations turning to a four-day week or reduced working hours for a while now, as UK workers continue to work significantly longer hours than our European peers.

One company that has taken on the innovative stance of encouraging staff to work a four-day week is VerriBerri in Essex. The marketing and PR firm led by CEO Sarah Kauter is in its tenth year of trading and is known for its fresh ideas and approaches towards their work.

Sarah Kauter explains however, although there are clear benefits to the four-day working week, there are a number of elements to consider before rushing into the decision of shifting staffs working patterns.

The set up
If you are an established company like VerriBerri then you will already have a good working structure in place. To alter what people are used to can mean you come up against the resilience of change, along with the added hours you will have to work behind the scenes, ensuring that the admin is up to date and to a legal standard, for example, changing contract terms.

The first thing to do if you are thinking of implementing a four-day working week for your company, is to hold a meeting and personally explain to your staff what you are proposing, outlining exactly the benefits and any teething problems you anticipate. It is important that your staff are not made to feel pressured into doing anything they don’t want to do and vital they are given as much detail as possible about how this can affect them.

Once the meeting has concluded, it would be wise to follow up with an email so that your staff have the details to hand. This also allows you to ask what days people would prefer to work, this way you can start to make a rota that is fair for everyone. Sarah explains ‘when VerriBerri implemented the change, we allowed staff the option to remain working a standard five-day week if it suited them more. Only one staff member stayed with their normal hours.’

Sarah says, ‘the majority of the staff opted to have either a Monday or a Friday off and extended their working days to 8am to 6pm, this allowed them to have a longer weekend, meaning that they could enjoy more quality time with their families or start to book weekend city breaks without it impacting on heir annual leave’. This is obviously hugely beneficial to the staff as their work life balance is much better, however, the admin involved in organising annual leave allowances now that hours are different, is something that needs to be considered as you would not want to short change or accidentally offer more annual leave entitlement to your staff. This is something that can be very tricky to navigate and work out when you consider people with Mondays off are now owed back every bank holiday Monday they take off.

As well as this you need to think about the roles your staff play within the company and whether they clash with any others, for example, if you have a business development team of two, it would be a good idea to have one of them take off the Monday the other take off the Friday so that there is always a presence in the office for that team.

Customer impact
How changing your working week will affect your customers is solely based around what industry you are in and who your company is serving. One advantage that has been reported, is that productivity can actually increase, meaning there is no drop in the work that has been done while staff benefit from less stress due to the 52 extra days off, they receive each year.

As you will have to increase the hours your staff work day to day to ensure they aren’t taking any deduction in pay, this can mean that your staff may benefit from having a couple of hours a day without the phone ringing, as other companies will probably be opening later and closing earlier. This is an optimum time for staff to ramp up their productivity as distractions are at a minimum.

Overall the four-day week will always divide peoples’ opinions as some companies prefer to stick to the tried and true whereas this new innovative way of thinking does require a lot of trust in your staff to perform so that productivity isn’t affected. That being said the benefits of having happier staff who feel appreciated are huge when it comes to retaining customers and ensuring the quality of work is of a great standard.

To find out more on VerriBerri’s PR and marketing services, please visit www.verriberri.co.uk

Patrick Doherty