Is a Four Day Week the future of work?

18 March 2020

Andrew Barnes is a successful businessman who made headlines around the world by implementing the four day working week in his own company. Andrew visited UCE to speak about the benefits of a four day week for organisations.

  • Andrew Barnes

    Andrew Barnes giving his presentation to staff and students at UCE.

 

Andrew Barnes' presentation made a convincing case for a sustainable, profitable future in which we work less while being more productive, engaged and satisfied. The four day week is based on employees receiving 100% salary for 80% of their usual hours of work, on the condition that 100% of agreed output is achieved. This requires an understanding between the employee and employers about how to measure productivity.

Achieving 100% of the output in 80% of the time has a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Increase in employee loyalty. Employees are grateful for their benefits and will work hard to maintain them. It also means lower staff turnover and is a powerful recruiting tool to get talent from other businesses.
  • Better workplace resilience. Teams are required to figure out how to fill in other people’s tasks when they’re away. As a result, staff have a broader range of skills and are prepared if their colleagues are absent.
  • Improved physical and mental well-being for staff. Allowing an extra day a week to recharge and recover leads to less sick days and less pressure on our health system. The gift of time allows for more priceless experiences, such as spending time with friends and family.

Andrew says a key reason businesses are hesitant to trial the four day week is because they rely on time as their measure for productivity. Successfully reducing hours while maintaining output depends on employers trusting their employees.

This discussion about productivity, flexibility and trust is very timely given the current global situation. Due to COVID-19, many businesses are being forced to ask their staff to work remotely for the first time. It will be interesting to see if a sudden shift to working remotely will impact productivity and whether it will gain popularity once this pandemic is over.

To learn more about Andrew Barnes and the four day week, visit his website. 

 

After the presentation, we asked University students and staff for their opinions.

What are your thoughts on a four day week after listening to the presentation?

“I think it sounds great. I’m really excited for there to be more discussion in my team about it.”

“It makes a lot of sense! If I’m being honest, I know I’m not being productive at work 100% of the time. But I’m sure if there was the option to cram a week’s work into four days in order to get a day off that I would be motivated to stay focused 100% of the time. Also having an extra day off would allow me to relax and recover so that I didn’t burn out.”

“I still feel like I wouldn’t have enough time to get everything done in 4 days. But maybe that just means we need to hire more people...”

“I’m still a bit sceptical but like Andrew said: there’s no harm in trying it out! If it doesn’t work at least you know and you can always revert back to 5 days”

 

What would you do with an extra day a week?

“I would try to get all of my admin done. Especially appointments which you often have to get time off work to go to. It’d be so nice to have a day where I can do all of that so that I’m free during the weekend for adventures.”

“Oh gosh… I’d sleep!”

“Spend time with my friends who work weekends.”

“Probably try to work on other projects, you know, have a side hustle. Or go and do lots of training for races and things like that. Having 3 days off would be amazing!”

“Spend more time with my children. The story that Andrew said of his IT person picking up his kid for the first time from school made me tear up.” 

“Go walking, be outside and have alone time. Do things you don’t get the chance to do on weekends when you’re busy with kids.”

“It’d give me a chance to go out and do fun things, rather than just recover from the work week.”