Exacerbated by the pandemic, flexible working is establishing itself high up on the ‘new normal’ agenda for businesses, employers and employees. One facet of this is the four day work week: 80% of the working hours for 100% of your existing pay. With organisations such as Canon, Panasonic, Unilever and Microsoft trialling and adopting this phenomenon, we have been investigating the outcome of these new flexible working arrangements (FWAs) and how they have surprised many with their benefits, not just the obvious one for employees but also the numerous benefits seen by organisations and employers.


Reduce costs and carbon footprint


Enabling employees to work offsite can cut down on office space requirements and overhead costs. In addition, less time in the office due to four day work weeks or FWAs, could reduce your organisation’s carbon footprint, not only with less energy use but also due to employees no longer needing to commute 5 days a week. With mental health absenteeism alone costing UK businesses £14 billion in 2020, FWAs have a huge potential to reduce costs for your organisation. For example, an employee who has a minor cold, or a sick child, has the opportunity to work at home, so as not to bring a minor contagious illness to work, or to be able to care for their child, rather than taking a sick day and costing your organisation.

Combating burnout and mental health issues


Adding to the idea of mental health absenteeism, according to 4 Day Week Global, 78% of employees with four days weeks are happier and less stressed. With employee burnout becoming a buzzword for business and HR, it has never been more important for employers to find ways to look after the mental and physical well-being of their workforce. By restoring a healthier work-life balance through four day work weeks, employees often feel less stressed as they have more time to relax and switch off from their jobs.


Acquisition and retention of talent


Having a happy and healthy workforce is also increasingly crucial for acquiring and retaining talented and valuable employees. With 63% of businesses finding that they were more successfully attracting and retaining talent, it becomes clear how four day work weeks and FWAs could be an employee perk that sets your organisation apart in terms of excellent company culture. In the current UK hiring climate, where there are more job vacancies than unemployed members of society, FWAs such as a 4 day work week could increase your organisation’s pool of potential recruitment candidates, and by also retaining happy employees, they could even save companies time and money spent on hiring new people.



One of the main issues for many organisations when it comes to FWAs and trialling four day work weeks is a reduction in productivity. However, take the example of medicine, would you feel safer being operated on by a surgeon who had worked a 20 hour shift, or one who is more rested? In fact, spending more time resting and less time actively engaged in work can both boost creativity and the ability to problem-solve, as well as making the time actually spent on work more efficient. For Microsoft Japan, who trialled the four day week trial in 2019, productivity rose by 39%! With more time to deal with admin and other issues within their home lives, employees often feel more focused when they are at work and as a result, many trials of the four day work week have surprised organisations with increased productivity.



Whilst there are many benefits to FWAs and the four day work week, many organisations still feel that it is a huge risk to their operations. Questions such as how can we implement FWAs whilst remaining operational 5 days a week, pose some of the biggest hurdles to trialling FWAs. However, co-founder of 4 Day Work Week, Andrew Barnes raises the idea that giving employees the freedom to implement FWAs, such as four day work weeks, within their own teams, empowers employees to take control and responsibility of their own workload and productivity. Ultimately, FWAs have the potential to create a company culture where employees feel empowered, and valued as equals, opening up a dialogue between employers and employees about wellbeing, work-life balance and the future of workplace culture.