A four-day working week: some of the pros and cons

A major advice centre in Scotland has introduced a four-day working week for its staff to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. Picture: TSPL
A major advice centre in Scotland has introduced a four-day working week for its staff to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. Picture: TSPL
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It emerged today that a major advice centre in Scotland has introduced a four-day working week for its staff to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism.

Advice Direct Scotland, (ADS) a charity which operates customer contact centres in Glasgow and Stornoway, has overhauled its business to ensure all 68 members of staff will receive the same wages as they previously earned, while working fewer hours. Any shortfall in hours worked is financed by Social Enterprise Direct, (SED) the charity’s social enterprise trading arm.

The move coincides with the call this week from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Manchester for people to work fewer hours but get paid the same. Currently around 1.4 million people are estimated to be working seven days a week in the UK, which goes against this idea.

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The TUC believes a four-day working week will be possible across the UK this century if businesses are forced to share the benefits of new technology with their workforce. Artificial intelligence, robotics and automation could provide a £200bn UK economic boost in the next decade.

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of a four-day working week

Benefits

Achieving a better work life balance. It gives staff more time to do what they love on their extra day off, including spending more time with their children.

Boosts productivity by allowing an extra day to let people come back to work feeling more refreshed. It may also create a more positive office atmosphere.

Possible health benefits and less sick days.

Gives workers more time to do get the housework and menial tasks done, while leaving the weekend wide open.

Cuts out a day's commuting for workers travelling longer distances, which also helps save on fuel.

Drawbacks

People may feel more refreshed from having an extra day off each week - but they may also experience a drop in productivity if their company increases the working hours in a single day. Adopting a new working pattern takes time both physically and mentally and may take a bit of getting used to.

The four-day week might not work for every business. If customers expect you to be available five days a week, then an employee who is unavailable on Fridays can cause problems.

Organising childcare can be more difficult as many daycare and after school clubs work around a typical 9 to 5 schedule. A four day week could alter daily hours and affect this.