Happy Working: How Four- and Five-Day Weeks Can Keep Your Spirits Up

Have you ever found yourself sitting at your work desk praying for the clock to tick faster?

It is no secret that our jobs fill up most of our weekdays – and, on occasions, weekends too. We used to stick to a 9 to 5 work routine, but the reality now is that employees are expected to be on the ball whenever the business requires their input.

Unsurprisingly, workers are feeling increasingly stressed and exhausted, and the idea of settling down for the evening with a free mind is an idealistic thought. This is why the concept of a four-day working week is slowly starting to slither into our conversations.

At first, this may sound a tad implausible. But when considering that, in 1890, American employees within a manufacturing plant would work on average 100 hours a week before shifting to the now-standard 9 to 5, moving from 40 to 32 (if not 28) hours per week is arguably not so utopic.

This said, there already are companies around the world that offer four-day working weeks. This article takes a look at some global companies that have embraced this new concept and then shares tips on how to prevent your five-day job from dampening your mood.

The beauty of working four days a week

We have all experienced that demoralising sentiment that creeps in on a Sunday afternoon. The weekend has flown by and it’s already time to pack your briefcase for Monday morning, leaving very little opportunity to wind down.

With a four-day working week, employees tend to get a full Friday off to properly relax. By the time it is the beginning of the week again, they will feel ready to button their suit up and make their way to the office. Indeed, by tackling the tiredness and burnout that comes with spending numerous hours inside the workplace, staying home one extra day does an employee’s mental wellbeing the world of good. According to Day Week Global, 78% of employees with four-day weeks are more relaxed and feel more positive on the whole.

Not only that, but it also offers parents with childminding responsibilities the opportunity to better juggle their work and private spheres. Plus, it has an eco-friendlier impact on our environment, as workers end up commuting less and office appliances stay switched off for longer.

But who are some of the businesses that have moved to a four-day working week?

Perpetual Guardian

This New Zealand-based financial services firm acted as a pioneer in the analysis of the effects of working four days a week. They experimented with it in 2018 and have never looked back.

Thanks to the four-day working week, as well as lowering the stress and uplifting the mood of its employees, the company registered a 20% rise in productivity. Frankly, it is a win-win situation for both the business and its workers, whose office hours have been reduced while maintaining their original five-day salary.

Microsoft Japan

Incentivised by the outstanding results that emerged from its four-day working week trial, a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan has been keeping its office closed on Fridays since August 2019. In fact, the company recorded a 40% jump in productivity, a 23% reduction in weekly electricity use, and a 59% decrease in printed pages.

What is more, employees are now happier and – as a result – take less time off work.

Shake Shack

This international fast-food chain shortened its working week too, allowing store managers to work 40 hours across four days while keeping their five-day pay and benefits.

Initially trialled in some of its West Coast restaurants in the US, Shake Shack later extended the new working week format to more locations. Indeed, not only did it improve both the lifestyle and finances of its store managers, but it also helped the company recruit and retain its talents.

Radioactive PR

UK-based Radioactive PR switched permanently to a four-day working week after a successful trial in June 2018. Lunch breaks may be slightly shorter and holiday days may have been reduced from 25 to 20, however, staff receive the same salary despite not working on Fridays.

Moreover, while its employees now enjoy a better work and life balance, the company’s turnover has increased by an impressive 70%.

Don’t let your job break you down

While the concept of a four-day working week is certainly turning a few heads, it is also true that most businesses are still sticking to the usual Monday-to-Friday calendar.

As already mentioned, a long week inside the office can be tiring and mentally draining. Ensure you keep your chin up by following these small tips:

  • Avoid gossip and delicate topics – It is important to always preserve a collaborative, friendly work environment. Make sure not to gossip about colleagues or bring up controversial topics (e.g. politics, religion, etc.) which could upset some of your fellow employees. A conflict-free workplace will make your office days much more enjoyable.
  • Stay organised – This is easier said than done but planning your day ahead will help you stay on top of things and significantly reduce your stress at work. Moreover, being organised with your time also means that you will not end up rushing in the morning to get to work, saving you needless and avoidable stress.
  • Go for a walk – Take advantage of your lunch breaks! If you have been sitting at a desk all morning, recharge and stretch your muscles by going for a short walk. A bit of exercise will brighten your mood and help you combat the mental and physical effects of work stress.
  • Turn your car radio on – Listening to music before or after work can offer many benefits. Play an uplifting tune you can sing along to and loosen up. You will feel much better!

As businesses become increasingly aware of the numerous benefits that come with the introduction of shorter weeks, it may not be long before most employees will be able to enjoy an extra day off work. In the meantime, while we wait for other companies to test the concept too, please feel free to follow our stress-free tips to ensure that your job is not dictating your happiness.      

Author: Editorial Team

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