💼The Pandemic Has Majorly Shifted The Way We Work: Here’s Why Four-Day Could Be The New Five-Day!

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the working week would actually shrink. Get longer, sure. But shrink? No way. And without affecting our take-home pay. That one’s hard to believe. We’ve done a five-day working week for who-knows-how-long and you know what they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But do you think our work week is in need of some serious fixing? Some good old tampering with? Has the pandemic finally made us realise just how outdated our five-day work week has become? 

The pandemic has shown us how much a work-life balance actually matters. Workers across the globe want flexibility in their work. They want to be able to spend quality time with their family and kids. When they’re all awake! Not stumbling into the apartment at 11pm. Though for bankers, that’s probably considered early! Nah. Those days are long gone (I hope). We’ve all realised that life is simply too short and too precious to waste all our living hours working. That’s just too depressing. 

It’s time we re-aligned!

Sometimes all it takes is for a drastic and practically life-altering event like a pandemic to force us to stop and evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. No one wants to be a salve. To work day in day out. All to pay some bills. That one’s gotta go. We want to have some sort of freedom. Now. Without waiting till we’re retired to have it. And a four-day work week can offer some sense of that. 

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I brought up this discussion with an older relative of mine who said: “what has this generation come to!” And while I totally get where he’s coming from, I reckon he’s a wee bit jealous that I could, one day soon, be working a week that’s 20% shorter than his was. All for the same pay. So, his obvious envy is well understood!

My grandpa (who is now well into his 80s) thinks a four-day week is a most wonderful invention! And he told me it’s something he wishes he had had. He said that us youngsters shouldn’t be working our best years away. He did that. He worked so hard for so many years that it was only when he got older did he finally get to enjoy his time. To do the things he loves most. 

Speak up!

Luckily, things are slowly starting to change. And for the better. We’ve worked too hard for too long and it’s high time we strike a balance between work and life. The two are very different and need not be merged into one another every second of every day. And companies are realising this, too. They’re starting to realise that workers want – and need – flexibility. 

See, companies want one thing. And that’s profit. Without profit, what’s the point. And who are the primary drivers of this profit? It’s the workers. Without them, you don’t have anything really. Workers make businesses go round. And businesses make the economy go round. So, workers are pretty vital.

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Now, if workers are burnt out (being on zoom 24/7 kinda has that effect) then how can you expect them to be the change drivers? The idea generators? And most of all, the innovators. Innovation doesn’t come about from ‘interacting’ on zoom (more like saying ‘you’re on mute’, ‘I can’t quite hear you’ or ‘your internet’s a bit laggy’). It comes about from being energised, refreshed and motivated. 

Win-win

And a four-day work week is just the solution. Provided there’s some actual interactions. Face-à-face. See, having one day a week off (plus Saturdays and Sundays) would mean that as a working parent, you can get to go to your kids’ recitals, their ballet shows and all those other cute and totally unmissable moments (that take place at school – not over zoom) that you really don’t want to miss.

Having that one day off can give also you that well-needed mid-week break. To have the chance to simply relax and unwind. To spend time with yourself. By yourself. Without feeling guilty. Oh, and to know that you’ll still be getting paid for it. If that’s not going to boost employee satisfaction and their overall wellbeing then I don’t know what will. 

There have been a number of companies who have already tried their hands at a shorter working week. In the UK, Atom Bank has launched a shorter working week, with a twist. They expect Fridays to be the default day off. Aka a longer weekend. Sweet stuff.

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They currently have 430 employees though I suspect this move might very well attract way more(!) and is the largest company in the UK to make such a move. There’s always something cool about being the first one.  Atom’s hours have shrunk from 37.5 to 34 and the bets part – salaries ain’t gonna be affected. 

A couple of others have done trial runs for this. They’ve realised that workers want flexibility. And the more flexible a company can be, the better their prospects. Workers are done with working long hours, sticking around till the late hours in the evening. They want to work on their terms and Atom has found a way of doing just that. With the labour shortage right now, companies must be careful of not isolating top-talent. Things like flexible working and four-day work weeks can seriously boost a company’s competitiveness letting them snap up some of that rare talent.

And when it came to productivity, guess what they found? It didn’t fall. Not even a bit. Productivity (measured as the output per worker per hour) falls when you’re stuck on zoom. Spending hours in pointless meetings with no chance of leaving. Productivity declines when workers are spending too much time on their work that they no longer have time for themselves.

To do things other than work (like playing sport) boosts creativity which is ultimately what everyone wants. Allowing employees the time to catch their breath and enjoy life’s moments without feeling the need to be rushed off their feet all the time can work wonders.

Productivity is affected by our mental state as well as our physical one. So whether it’s things like being able to work our own hours or working a shorter week, this kind of choice – and lifestyle can go a long way.

Maybe this four-day thing really is the answer to everyone’s prayers!

Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment

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