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Balancing remote working and the 4 day week

Posted about 3 years ago by Rob Markwell

Following Spain’s trial of the 4 day week, the topic of shortening the working week has come back into debate, with many citing the positive impact which increased flexibility is likely to have on productivity, wellbeing and climate change.

But what impact will the 4 day week have in light of more remote working being offered by employers?

Balancing time, workloads and wellbeing

Due to increased workloads and the blurred lines between work and home, many employees are finding they have been working longer hours compared to previous years.

Our own research found that 55% of employees are working more than 9 hours a day for a variety of reasons, from heavier workloads to more meetings or simply because they feel they should. However, one of the more concerning statistics highlights that 12% of employees are working longer because they feel they are less effective when working remotely.

This raises questions surrounding the viability of introducing a 4 day week alongside working from home options, where though employees may benefit from taking an additional day off, there is understandable concern about the impact of increasing workloads and the knock on effect this is likely to have on working hours.

From our perspective, if remote working were to be maintained and a 30 hour week introduced, it is likely that the issue surrounding longer daily working hours will become more complex as employees struggle to maintain a balance between prioritising workloads and their overall wellbeing.

What we have seen

Over the past year we have encountered some employers who were willing to offer a 4 day week. But, to help address the above issues they have only offered this flexibility on the condition that the 5th days hours have been made up throughout the week, creating a more compressed working week.

Though this can help to solve the potential issues which may arise from remote productivity, encouraging employees to complete their workload during working hours, some may see it to be counter productive to the benefits achieved through a 30 hour week.

To be remote

Prior to the pandemic, we would have addressed the 4 day week with a different note, hailing its ability to enhance in-office productivity and employee wellbeing alongside candidate attraction and employee retention.

However, we need to remember that the dynamics of working have shifted drastically over the past 12 months and whilst a 4 day week may have been beneficial when we were all in office on a daily basis, the introduction of remote working may have had a more significant impact on the feasibility of implementing a 30 hour week than previously considered.

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