April 20, 2022
Starting in June, over 3,000 workers will trial a 4 day work week in Great Britain. The pilot scheme, which is set to last until December, is said to be the largest ever to take place. From game developers to education and foster care services, over 60 companies will be taking part in the programme. Employers will introduce four longer working days, or cut full-time hours down to 32 per week with no loss of pay.
Following the 4-day Easter weekend, we took the opportunity to find out how people feel about a shorter working week. Using Brandwatch search, we analysed 459 mentions from 413 UK based authors between 14th – 20th April to identify the pros and cons of a 4 day work week according to employees.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most conversations around the subject are positive, as many are enjoying their second short week due to the extra-long weekend. Users are excited by the prospect of regular 4 day work weeks, and report feeling more productive at work due to having shorter deadlines. One Tweet reads, “4 day working week should be the way forward I’ve been more productive this week than ever all because I know the office is closed on Friday”.
Employees demonstrate increased feelings of happiness thanks to a longer period of rest, with many pushing for the 4 day work week to become a permanent fixture. Users believe that the pros outweigh the cons, and that a shorter week will lead to improved quality of life: ”Shocking that we have 2 weeks of a 4 day work week every year and the entire economy doesn’t collapse. Everyone seems happier and society hasn’t fallen apart.”
Most negative sentiment surrounds the absence of a 4 day work week as the norm. A post on Tumblr reads “Having these two back to back bank holidays is truly like I have tasted the 4 day work week TWICE now and I don’t know how I’m supposed to now settle for less”. People are also discussing public safety, one Twitter user argues that a 4 day week for workers such as London bus drivers would decrease fatigue, leading to less road accidents.
In addition, we found a 4 day work week might be particularly useful to neurodivergent workers. Interestingly, one user wrote, “A 3/4 day work week would help me manage my ADHD so much better. This 5 day work week isn’t sustainable”.
A small number of people are concerned that four working days will equate to less pay, and that they will have to work harder or with minimum rest to make up for lost time. In addition, some older users report feeling “forced out” of their jobs as they are physically unable to work 10 hour days.
Though it seems there aren’t many people that don’t want the 4 day work week, companies should not assume that all of their employees would benefit from the same arrangement. It is important to consider that while many people will thrive from having more down-time and shorter deadlines, some may not be able to physically cope with longer hours or even harder work. The scheme will be unsuccessful if employers do not offer a choice, especially if there are changes to regular working hours or pay.
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