Will the 4-day work week become the norm and when?

Couple looking out to see at scales with 5 day week on one side and 4 day week on the other

What have all these things got in common?

  • Being married to Regé-Jean Page
  • Being able to eat anything you like and still stay at your perfect weight
  • Winning the Euro Millions
  • Sunny Summer days all year round
  • A 4-day working week

Given you a little insight into the inner workings of my mind there haha.

Your list might be different but for me, the above items are those I would include in a list of ‘Good ideas in theory’….

Lets take one of those from the list and consider what a 4 day work week might look like and what the pros and cons might be.

The 4-day work week has been talked about since the 60’s but as technology has continued to develop at breakneck speed, add to that The Pandemic and our collective review of work-life balance, the possibility of a 4-day work week seems closer than ever.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it, Monday-Thursday could be the default weekdays and Friday-Sunday the new 3-day weekend! Yeay!!

Like all stories (as you know if you are a regular reader), I like to look back as part of looking forward and for this story the beginning is a very long time ago. We aren’t going to go back to that beginning with the Babylonians and their 7 days for 7 planets idea or the unrest that led to the introduction of the 8hr day/40hr week, but we are going to go back to the early part of the 20th Century

The move from a 6 day to a 5 day week was driven primarily by religion so that Jewish workers could observe the Sabbath on Saturday and Christian workers the Lord’s day on Sunday.

Fast forward 100+ years later and whilst we aren’t looking at the 15 hours that Economist John Maynard Keynes predicted back in the late 1920’s, he was right about technological advancement being one of the contributing factors to the possibility of a shorter working week.

For it to become the new norm it’s my view that there would have to be some big old mindset shifts.

We aren’t the same society we were when we moved from a 6 to a 5-day week, it could be argued that we aren’t even the same society we were in 2019. Wellbeing feels much more centre stage than before with more choices for employees that have skills and attributes that employers are looking for.

We are however at the time of writing, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis where people are concerned about redundancy so the appetite for change by both employers and employees is likely tempered by that.

There are many ways to introduce less hours for the same pay and that’s both a blessing and a curse.

A couple might be;

  1. The 4 day fixed default work week as the norm, Monday – Thursday as Monday – Friday is now with Friday being treated in the same way as Saturday and Sunday.
  2. A rolling or fixed 3rd day during the existing 5-day week with weekends remaining Saturday and Sunday

I feel a SWOT analysis coming on;

As for the future? I think a 4 day work week is slowly coming upon us now and I don’t think we need to look too far into the future to see it become the norm but what it will look like is still very much up for debate.

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Photo credits:
Couple on the beach, Photo by  Anastasia  Shuraeva: https://www.pexels.com 4764978
Blocks Photo by Brett Jordan: https://www.pexels.com 9818447
Woman contemplating Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com 4308049/

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