The pandemic has changed the world in many ways; one major effect in the UK has been the change to our working patterns, in particular, the introduction of remote working.
This has sparked the debate of whether businesses should start introducing a four-day working week; after all, many companies were forced to allow their employees to work from home and permit more flexible working.
The traditional 9-5, Monday to Friday working week has existed for over a century. Is it now time to consider an update? It is still an option that might still seem a long way off and be seen as too ‘radical’ a change.
The main benefit for a majority of people is pretty obvious; it is the chance to have a better work-life balance, allowing people to spend more time with their family and friends. But it is also a chance to unwind, de-stress and pursue hobbies that help us flourish.
So what about businesses?
COVID-19 meant businesses suffered, with thousands of employees being made redundant. The introduction of a shorter week would allow them to pull back some funds, avoiding further redundancies and boosting productivity from their employees. Recruitment would reach a much wider field of talent as many may have commitments which mean they would otherwise be unable to do a full 5-day week.
The environment would also benefit from shorter working weeks, with less commuting reducing the amount of pollution. During the first lockdown last year, it was estimated that in some cities, the level of nitrogen dioxide fell by 60%, on the same period in 2019
The issues with a reduced week
Undoubtedly there would be disadvantages to a shorter working week, not least the cost to companies, and this may be reason enough to not implement a change of working hours.
For some, having face-to-face interaction is crucial to the smooth running of the business; for example, any business that works for/with the general public might find that reducing their service will cause too much disruption and have negative consequences.
Smaller enterprises may not have access to the legal support of an HR department to implement a new working week. This requires changes to contracts and making sure this is done correctly is critical to avoid disputes further down the line.
What to do if you want to implement a shortened work week
At this stage it is highly unlikely that the whole of the UK will suddenly change to a shorter week; with so many hurdles legally, it will be something that will take a long time to organise.
But if you are interested in progressing your business and seeing the potential of a shorter week, there are many things that need to be considered, not least making sure your employees have flexibility clauses. If you are thinking about this and want some help and advice, SFB Consulting are ready to facilitate your requirements. Please call us on 01279 874676 and we will support your business to implement any new changes to your business.