Many big companies around the globe have already tried this seemingly unconventional experiment — shortening the 5-day workweek to a 4-day one. One of these companies is Microsoft, and they claim that reducing the workdays of employees has actually increased their productivity by 40%. But can small and medium-sized businesses also benefit from such an experiment? Let’s see the pros and cons of switching to a 4-day work week for SMBs in today’s blog.
The Benefits of 4-Day Work Weeks
#1 Prevent Burnout
One of the greatest hurdles when it comes to traditional 5-day work weeks is motivation and retaining one’s energy. Both of these factors are crucial in avoiding burnout. It is the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion from being exposed to a long period of stress. It can cause demotivation and disengagement from one’s job. So, by removing one day of stress and work focus, you give your employees the chance to relax their minds and bodies, spend time with their loved ones and doing their hobbies, so they can regain their energy and rediscover their motivation.
#2 It Builds Your Team
With just 4 working days in the week, employees working on projects together will have to learn better time efficiency, cut distractions, and find ways to collaborate, so they meet their deadlines. You will not only have more engaged and happy employees but also ones that improve in terms of teamwork and group responsibility.
#3 It Will Keep Employees From Leaving
It’s tough to keep good talent these days, and any advantage your business can offer them to stay should be welcomed with open arms. There are many small business owners who have introduced the 4-day work week to improve the environment and working conditions of their employees, and that has resulted in longer employee retention.
One of these companies is Rentwear Inc. whose introduction of the shorter workweek has resulted in keeping most of their employees for over 10 years now, which is in stark contrast with the rest businesses in their industry. Do you still think your business can’t benefit from a 4-day work week?
#4 It Offers Flexibility
Many employees, especially from the younger generations, place a high value on alternative work schedules. If you present the opportunity for people to select which 4 out of 5 days to work, and also let them use all 5 days if they want to, is a powerful way to increase their productivity and make them appreciate you as an employer who offers flexibility and freedom of choice.
The Downsides of 4-Day Work Weeks
There are many small businesses that have difficulty applying the 4-day work week in their company, and here is why.
#1 Deadline Issues
Decreasing the number of worked days can make it difficult to finish tasks on time. It is no secret that small businesses often run on tighter schedules, which means it is not just all hands on deck but all hours in the workday should also be available. So, unless you take the fifth day and divide the working hours between the remaining four days (so that everyone works the same number of hours as a 5-day work week), you will have difficulty getting things done on time.
Then again, not everyone will fancy working for 10 hours a day, even if it is just for 4 days. You can, however, present the opportunity to your workers and see how they respond to it.
#2 It’s Not Applicable to All SMBs
There are certain industries and types of businesses that cannot really afford to cut a day in their workweek. Think about real estate companies, restaurants, cafes, and other online service businesses like digital marketing agencies. If your company falls into this category of small businesses, you can still try and make things better for your employees by offering greater schedule flexibility.
#3. 4 Working Days Don’t Necessarily Mean Greater Productivity
Although on paper, the 4-day work week should make people happier and thus more motivated, that is not always the case in real life. There are some business owners who say that readjusting to a new working schedule can cause employees to be more chaotic in planning their day, thus losing a lot of time in the process.
#4 It Delays Customer Service
Consumers often assume that there will be customer service available to them between 5 to 7 days a week. If you go for a shorter workweek, you either need to hire more people or there have to be employees working extra days. Either way, 4-day work weeks can hinder the smooth operation of customer service departments.
While there are many reasons to try the 4-day work week, there are also many actual concerns about applying it to your small business. It is a risk that may or may not prove to be justified in the end. The best advice we can give you is to consider all possible pros and cons, and if you decide to give it a chance, make sure to adapt the experiment to the specific needs of your business. What worked for someone else might not work for you and vice versa.