A four-day work week must not mean a reduction in working styles, according to those in the sector.
This week firms across the UK began the biggest experiment of four-day working weeks without a decrease in pay.
But Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO EMEA at global firm Unispace, has warned of the need to take a tailored approach to work styles.
Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO, EMEA at Unispace, said: “This trial of a new working style is certainly laudable in the new world of work, but as a CEO I would be wary of pushing one set up for many in an environment where flexibility is key. Just as we’ve learned that the five-day work week isn’t viable for all, so too could the four-day week be for some. If there’s one crucial takeaway from the pandemic, it’s that taking a catch-all approach to working-style mandates isn’t always the best option. People from different demographics and home lives will have different preferences and if the right balance in working styles is to be achieved there needs to be flexibility, rather than broadly dictating requirements for all.
“For some, the option to get out to the office five days a week is appealing and it’s important that this isn’t overlooked. In fact, in a study of 3,000 office workers and 2,750 employers across Europe we found that 65% of those living with a spouse or partner and children preferred to be in the office, while 59% of those living alone also had a desire to be in the workplace rather than at home.
“While there will be many individuals who value the extra time they get from home, for others, the option to work amongst their peers for a full week in order to progress their careers is also still desired and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged by this change. As a case in point, our same study showed that the younger generation of the workforce would be happier to return to the office if they had access to training and development programmes (cited by 80% of respondents aged 18-35). A further 81% of those living with housemates and 75% of those living with a spouse/partner and children also cited a desire to return if they could gain access to training.
“The future workforce is flexible and while a four-day working week is an innovative approach that should be explored, the voice of all talent pools needs to be listened to in today’s talent-short market. No single approach to working set-ups will meet the needs of everyone, but a flexible style that puts the power in the hands of today’s talent will be more desirable for a greater range of individuals.”
Others warned that employees will need assistance to adjust to the change to ensure that individuals aren’t working additional hours over the agreed working days in order to complete their required work in four days.
Paul Modley, director of diversity, equity & inclusion at workforce solutions firm AMS, said: "The flexibility of being able to work four days a week will certainly help create a better work-life balance for some workforces. However, this concept is new to individuals and businesses alike. The key hurdle to overcome if this is to be successful is the careful management of workloads. If staff are cutting their hours by 20% but their workload and delivery expectations remain the same, employers could face a scenario where people are struggling to meet expectations and failing to take breaks or working overtime during the new working week in order to gain an additional day off.”