Can a 4-day workweek help you adapt to the 24/7 economy?

the digital world
By Caroline Gammon | 1st May 2022 | 5 min read

We now operate in a constantly switched-on world thanks to information and communication technology, resulting in consumers expecting goods and services to be available at their immediate disposal.

But with the restrictions of a 5-day working week, many businesses are struggling to meet the rising demand.

Could the answer be implementing a 4-day working week? We’ve explored the topic and identified what HR professionals can do to adapt their workplace.

What is the 24/7 economy?

The typical Monday to Friday, 9-5, is a custom that has been instilled in our society since the early 1900s.

However, the rise of technology has birthed a 24/7 economy and the newly added freedom of flexible working in our day-to-day is changing business demands.

Consumers now operate at all times regardless of the day, with the expectation that services, support and products will always be available.

What is the 4-day workweek?

Is the 4-day workweek simply a long weekend?

For the most part, yes, by offering a 4-day workweek, you are providing employees with an additional day to rest – however, there’s far more to consider than just removing a day.

The different types of a 4-day workweek

Over the last few years, many countries have trialed variations of the 4-day workweek, including:

Model 1: Removing a day

Completely removing a working day is perhaps what most people initially think when discussing a 4-day workweek.

Reducing the working week by a full day is considered the riskiest option, as you rely on employees to maintain the same output with less time.

Model 2: Removing a day but adding hours

The most common version of a 4-day workweek is to remove a day but add the additional hours onto the remaining days.

In essence, it means employees work 10 hours, four days a week, rather than 7-7.5 hours, five days a week.

Model 3: Keeping the days but reducing hours

In some cases, the hours worked each day are reduced so that the total amount of time equates to a 4-day workweek, and an actual day itself is not removed.

How does a 4-day workweek tackle the 24/7 economy?

While pressure may be mounting from employees to implement a 4-day workweek, this can’t outweigh the needs of your business.

The first question you need to ask yourself is: when do customers want/need to engage with your business?

Changing to a 4-day workweek may not suit every business; however, some will undoubtedly benefit from extended hours and extra days.

By implementing a 4-day workweek that’s supported by shift patterns, you can offer more available business hours and meet the consumer expectations of a 24/7 economy.

Extended hours can open greater scope for earning revenue and benefits as opposed to the traditional, Mon-Fri, 9-5.

For example, employees can be on various rotas, starting on different days and working more unconventional hours such as 06:00-16:00 or 12:00-22:00, ensuring customers have greater coverage throughout the week.

How can HR implement a 4-day workweek?     

The impact of a 4-day workweek will be enormous on employees, requiring significant intervention from HR.

So, what can HR do?

Work with employees

Before you start putting any plans into motion, check first with your employees if they’re open to the idea, as buy-in will be crucial to success.

Consider starting an employee forum that gathers staff from around the business and work with them to determine the overall sentiment towards a 4-day workweek.

Tip: one way to help achieve buy-in is by making the benefits clear and showing people why it’s worth the change.

Implement a trial

Taking a day out of your working week and placing employees on a shift-based rota is a drastic change.

As a result, HR must make it clear to employees that they will trial the change and if it’s not successful, operations will revert.

Edit your policies

Implementing a 4-day workweek will require HR to revisit various policies such as paid time off (PTO) and breaks throughout the day.

As an employee's working day could change to ten hours a day, you need to reassess how time-off is recorded – perhaps moving from employees booking a day off, which is traditionally 7 hours, to taking a set number of hours off.

Additionally, as employees need to take breaks every two hours, a ten-hour day will require staff to take additional rests, which must be outlined and made clear.

Measure the results

Having a way to measure the impact of implementing a 4-day workweek will be a fundamental task for HR.

To gauge whether the project is a success, you need to provide the business with measurable information that can paint a wider picture.

Areas such as objectives, performance and attendance should all be included in your tracking.

How can HR software facilitate a 4-day workweek?

When looking at HR’s involvement in facilitating a 4-day workweek, it can seem daunting, but with HR software, responsibilities can be streamlined and simplified.

1) Analytics

Best of breed HR software, such as Staffology HR, can provide you with a wide array of analytics, enabling you to easily gauge the effectiveness of the change.

Download data on your key measurables (performance, objectives and attendance) and interrogate the data to determine what impact a 4-day week has had.

2) Surveys

How will you gauge your employees’ thoughts before, during and after the change? HR software enables you to run surveys, directly asking your workforce for their feedback.

3) Communications

With HR software, you can send direct messages to employees within the app, ensuring all communications are clear and received.

4) Rotas

When implementing shift work, you need to manage the employee rota to ensure you’re never understaffed. By using HR software, you can do this all within the system, providing employees access to the rota from any location.

Additionally, by managing your rotas via a digital solution, you can avoid human error and eliminate the risk of staff being paid incorrectly.

How can IRIS help?

Looking for rota software that can help you implement rotas and facilitate the 4-day workweek? Alternatively, you can browse all our HR solutions.