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By Shashwat Tyagi

Four-Day Work Week | Advantages and Disadvantages

13th February, 2021

As you may have heard, the central government is planning on introducing the 4-day work week in India and giving companies the option of a 4-day, 5-day or 6-day work week with a 48-hour work limit.

What is a 4-day work week?

A 4-day workweek is a productivity improving arrangement between the management of any organisation and its employees. Under this arrangement, employees work only for 4-days in a week, as compared to the traditional 5-6 days a week. This when taken up by some pioneering organisations like apple was seen as an effective measure, especially in times like the pandemic. This also increases productivity by giving the employees time to unwind and get some personal time off.

Four-Day Work Week- Advantages and Disadvantages

The 4-day work week will mean 12-hour workdays and this will be a part of the new labour code which will be notified very soon by the Labour Ministry. However, the 4 day work week companies in India are still a rare phenomenon. The news has ramifications for both students and recruiters. Both are very important stakeholders who will directly be impacted by these changes.

Let’s check out the pros and cons of this futuristic move-

Advantages of a 4-day work week

Below listed are some of the benefits of a four day work week

  • Fewer overhead costs- According to research, reducing the number of days your employees spend in the office reduces all maintenance costs by upto 20%, especially electricity.
  • Increased productivity- Microsoft trialled the 4-day work week in Japan in 2019 and the result was a 40% increase in productivity. This is a major breakthrough in the corporate world.
  • Work-life balance- A study in New Zealand in 2018 found that workers felt they could successfully balance their professional and personal lives with a 4-day work week and 3-day weekend. This leaves them ample time to recharge and spend some valuable time with family and friends.
  • Flexibility- With the rise of remote work thanks to the pandemic, people finally realise the importance of flexible work hours. Employees are adults who know their responsibilities. A 4-day work week ensures both work and leisure in the right amounts.

Disadvantages of a 4-Day Work Week

  • Risk factor- Even though studies show increased productivity, what if work remains incomplete and workers have to start playing catch-up. This could be a major hurdle.
  • Resistance to change- Companies might feel a 4-day workweek is insufficient and not want to change the status quo.
  • Some industries need 24/7 participation- Some industries such as essential services need some employee or the other present all the time. This means they can’t practically follow the 4-day work week which may affect the adoption of the model.

We recently conducted our own survey and the findings are very interesting. People were asked if they preferred a 5-day work week with about 10 hours per day or a 4-day one with 12 hours work shift each day. A very marginal majority of people(52% vs 48%) still preferred the 5-day model which shows that there will be resistance by both employees and employers.

Poll on if people prefer a 4-day work week or a 5 day work week

We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a 12-hour work day brings with it it’s own problems. Some people might feel it is simply too much work for a single day.
No matter what you think though, it’s worth a try just to see the effects.

This is where B-schools come in. Clearly, there must be a shift in culture to teach MBA students how to cope with the 4-day work week once they enter the corporate world.

Below are a few important skills MBA grads must pick up to make a name for themselves in this ever-changing world-

  • Time Management- Fewer days at work means you have to make the most of them. Prioritising and meeting deadlines will become even more important.
  • Communication- Interacting with your team members to accomplish tasks will have to be more efficient than it is now. More work needs to be done in less time and that means there is no scope of miscommunication.
  • Organisation- Both employers and employees will need to be fully organised to make use of the 4 days.
  • Self-Motivation- 12 hour days might take a toll on the body and hence employees must be able to withstand long hours of work. Self motivation will play a big part in this.

Conclusion

Only time will tell how the 4-day work week performs in practice. In theory, it looks to be a welcome change in terms of work-life balance. However, it might face opposition at the start from employees and employers alike. MBA grads will particularly have to develop new skills to effectively manage teams in the new format. One can only wait and watch what happens as the model is slowly rolled out.

Follow this space for more updates on the latest educational, career and business trends.

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By Shashwat Tyagi

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