top of page

The four-day working week: options, considerations and tips

Just as the travel industry has been plunged back onto its feet and is wrestling with endless requests for home working, the UK four-day week trial pops up to provide further food for thought.

With 67% of the working population currently enjoying some form of flexible working, travel is, in the main, ideally placed to provide this – with the right attitude, a bit of organisation and the right tools to manage it all.

People await the outcomes of the UK trial with bated breath. The Icelandic trial almost a year ago was a resounding success. Back in 2019, trial by Microsoft in Japan saw a 40% increase in production. Closer to home, Purple friends, Happy, who are taking part in the trial, are cutting from 37.5 hours to 32 hours with no reduction in salaries and, in fact, some increases for part-timers. Henry Stewart, CEO of Happy, as the name suggests, always aims to improve the wellbeing of his people and to make them even happier, though is also is hoping to see additional productivity. Here’s his blog on the subject.

As with any other change process, logistics will need careful consideration.

Three options to consider:

  1. People work four longer days and take three days off - some hospitality businesses, for example, are already doing this or similar.

  2. The working week reduces to four days and salary is adjusted accordingly – pretty risk free as long as you can find additional cover.

  3. The working week compresses and everything else remains the same – on the basis there will be less downtime and more enthusiasm to get the work done. In this case you may need a change of management attitude towards measuring outputs rather than controlling inputs.

Considering the five-day week was born out of the industrial revolution of the 19th Century, you could argue that since technology has speeded us all up so significantly that it’s time for a rethink – just make sure you put some rules around that potential email backlog waiting to happen.

Our top tips:

  1. Consider all the pros and cons, thinking them through thoroughly

  2. Consult the workforce

  3. Ensure roles, responsibilities and expected outputs are clear

  4. Make sure processes, tools and technology are up to scratch

  5. Run a pilot

  6. Measure outputs not inputs, trusting people to deliver

  7. Evaluate

We await the outcomes of the UK trial with anticipation though, in the meantime, there’s every reason to start thinking now about how to make your workplace more flexible and therefore more attractive to workers present and future.

If you’d like further advice or want to know more about how we can help, you can contact workplace culture experts, Purple Cubed, here.

Written by Jane Sunley, Founder + CEO of Purple Cubed


bottom of page