The rise of the 4-day week

Posted on 17/11/2021 by Edward Sorrell

Conversations about 4-day weeks seem to be rife on social media after the announcement that Scotland intends to expand their trials with research finding “80% of people believe cutting their number of days at work with no loss of pay would benefit their wellbeing”.  

Whilst many are arguing a 4-day week is a great initiative that all businesses should adopt others are appalled by the idea believing that if it became law, it would be to the detriment of many businesses. Well at Realm, we’re here for it and here’s why! 

Earlier this year, we announced our own version of the 4-day week, Flexi-Fridays. Members of our team are able to opt to take Friday off, as long as they have done 85% of their contracted hours by Thursday evening. In short, it has been an overwhelming success and it’s not hard to figure out why.    

But why is there a 5-day week? 

History of the 5-day week 

The 5-day week was revolutionary in its time however what’s surprising, is that it is less than 100 years old. Henry Ford was one of the first to implement the 5-day week in 1926 with John Boot, ex-chairman of Boots, implementing it in the UK in 1934. Before that, workers would work on Saturdays and have only one day off, Sunday – the traditional day of rest. 

However, it became an increasingly common problem that many of the workers, let’s say enjoyed their day off a bit too much, and would have to call in sick on Mondays. This led to an increase in employee absenteeism, falls in employee wellbeing and a rise in unemployment.  

Both Ford and Boot realised that by allowing their workers to have more time to do the things they wanted, retention and engagement would increase along with their wellbeing. This, in turn, would increase their productivity as they would be able to enjoy their lives more. It worked, with unparalleled success, which is why the 5-day week became law.  

So, if we saw that much success 100 years ago from the working week changing, and the work in which we do has changed, along with the technology we use to do it changing so drastically, why would we not think it could be improved even more? 

So why should there be a 4-day week? – It's a win-win  

  1. Increase in productivity  

 From a business owners' perspective, for a business to be profitable you need your employees to be productive. By reducing hours, it’s easy to think you, however, as Henry Ford and John Boot realised, allowing the workforce more time for their own lives meant they were more engaged at work too. It’s a win-win.  

  1. Increased employee attraction and retention  

 Employees want to feel valued, empowered and trusted. Businesses that allow more flexibility, will likely have more loyal and devoted employees. Studies have found 63% of businesses that offer a 4-day week found it easier to attract and retain talent. Win-win.  

  1. Increased employee wellbeing.  

Employee wellbeing is crucial to business for many reasons including reducing absenteeism, attraction and retention, productivity and engagement. Studies have shown that 78% of employees who work 4-day weeks are happier and less stressed. Win-win 

  1. There’s more time for personal growth  

The 5-day workweek allows time for rest and time for work but no time to work on yourself. Having that extra time to improve yourself won’t only help you but also the business.  At Realm to be eligible for Flexi Friday it is a non-negotiable that we spend 4 hours on self-development a month to ensure that we really do use that extra day wisely and improve ourselves (which in turn, will help the business). Win-win.  

Realm’s experience of the 4-day week: 

At Realm, it has always been our priority to ensure the wellbeing of our team is cared for and the Director, Duane, has always been a keen believer that life comes before work. The concept of the 4-day week undoubtedly aligns with the values of the business whilst being an incredible bonus to all those who benefit from it.  

In our Staff Engagement Survey, 90% of our team strongly agreed with the statement “this organisation supports a balance between work and personal life” (the remaining 10% agreed). This shows how valued our employees feel at Realm and I can certainly vouch for that too. It’s important to note that since we introduced Flexi-Friday, our financial performance has not dipped once (in fact, it’s improved!) proving that it is possible to provide more flexibility and maintain (or even increase) productivity. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, the 4-day week has been a success here at Realm and every time we have spoken about it on our social media it always seems to go down well, with all top-performing posts being about Flexi-Friday. I’m no sherlock but this must mean there’s many more of our followers believing in it too! Bring on the 4-day week revolution! 

#Flexibility #WorkLifeBalance #FlexiFriday #Innovation