four-day work week

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Four-day work week gains momentum across the globe

Governments and organisations in different parts of the globe appear to show a willingness to try out shorter working weeks for the benefit of workers.

four-day work week

Image: Adobe Stock

While most South Africans may only be able to enjoy a four-day work week a couple of times a year around Easter, Christmas and the odd public holiday, the four-day work week phenomenon is gaining favour in countries, such as Britain, Germany, Spain and New Zealand, where governments and employers are keen on trying out new ways of working.


There are numerous reasons why governments and organisations are eager to implement a shorter work week. Research shows it benefits both employers and employees.  Employee wellness is  enhanced when workers have a better work-life balance, as well as being able to spend more time with their family. 

Research has also shown that there is increased productivity by employees when they are at work. German tech company AWIN, conducted a trial of a shorter work week in 2020, enabling staff to end work at midday on Fridays, thus enabling employees to get a headstart on the weekend.

According to Financial Review, the experimental project led to improved worker engagement, as well as increased productivity at work. The experiment proved successful, prompting the company to completely cancel Fridays, thus ushering in a four-day work week for employees.

“We firmly believe that happy, engaged and well-balanced employees produce much better work. They find ways to work smarter, and they’re just as productive,” AWIN’s CEO Adam Ross told the Financial Review.


The Telegraph reports that employers in the UK show a willingness to consider a shorter working week for their employees, saying one in five small businesses in the UK is already working a four-day week.

Research conducted by the British organisation Be the Business found that over half of the responses in a survey indicated a desire to try out new ideas in favour of sticking with traditional ways that things have always been done in the workplace.  

“The consideration around the four-day week is just a reflection of some really interesting approaches that we’re going to see over the next 10 years, in terms of moving away from a traditional model of working nine to five,” Anthony Impey of Be the Business was quoted as saying in the Telegraph.


The pandemic has ushered in several changes to the world of work. Anthony Impey of Be the Business in the UK suggests that the pandemic has been the catalyst for change in how we work.

The results of the survey indicate “some massive changes in the ways of working post-pandemic”, Impey said.

Employers have seen that productivity and performance levels are not compromised with employees being able to manage their own work schedules outside of the office.

The pandemic has forced numerous companies to evaluate whether they need large offices or any office space at all to be able to conduct their business. Productivity is still high despite employees not sitting at desks in the office. The adjusted ways in which many companies are now working, shows that there is no need for all employees to be in the office all the time.  

While a number of employees now find themselves working remotely or online, others are subject to hybrid type work arrangements where they come to the office only on certain days or for specific tasks and duties. This has also led to a glut of business premises becoming vacant throughout the world.

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