Week of 4 days: the solution to avoid burn-out?

4 days of work per week instead of 5 … Keep a day to decompress, take care of daily tasks, or simply spend more time with family. In short, to ensure a better balance between private life and professional life. And all, keeping the same salary …

In these times of serial burn-outs, the idea has never been so controversial. And in some countries, it is even starting to attract the support of some … bosses!

An à la carte option

No magic recipe, companies that decided to test the week of 4 days have more or less all opted for a different formula. Basecamp, for example, in the United States, closes on Friday between May 1st and August 31st. Why ? To give its employees the opportunity to enjoy the summer, simply. The model has also made small, in France in particular, at Love Radius. There too, Friday, it's off during the summer.

Versa, an Australian digital marketing company, has chosen Wednesday, but all year long. As for Yprema, also in France, and Monograph, in San Francisco, they leave the choice (more or less) to their employees of their third day off, according to their other professional activities or leisure.

And at home?

In Belgium, no case claimed in a commercial company. The PS and the FGTB are strong advocates of the measure. The 32-hour week was part of the Socialist Union's proposals during the inter-professional negotiations in late 2018.

But the least we can say is that the employers' federations and the MR do not share this opinion. Arguments advanced: the 4-day week would be too costly and would increase recruiting difficulties in certain sectors in short supply.

What do studies say?

So far, the feedback from companies that have tested the 4-day week, as well as studies conducted on the subject, come more or less all to the same conclusion. There would be no negative impact on the results of the business. On the contrary, Perpetual Guardian, a financial specialist in New Zealand, reported a 20% increase in productivity, enough to make up for the 8 hours lost. He is not the only one. At Pursuit Marketing in Glasgow, the increase would have even reached 30%.

Why ? Because workers are more motivated and therefore more engaged. And for good reason, the study conducted at Perpetual Guardian underlines a reduced level of stress (from 45 to 38%) and a balance between private life and professional life (from 54 to 78%) following the implementation of the week of 32 hours.

An air of déjà vu

These conclusions are not unlike those observed at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Henry Ford introduced the five-day week while doubling the wages of its employees. The measures had, again, boosted productivity. So what about the final?

First of all, we must not neglect the stress potentially generated by such a change in some employees. Some companies have gone backwards. After that the measurement certainly requires some adjustments in terms of organization. For example, ending the phenomenon of meetingite, particularly time-consuming. Finally, such an upheaval may not be possible (for the moment?) In all sectors and for all functions.

But who says that a unique model must prevail? One thing is certain, the automation of repetitive tasks, and the resulting time savings, seem the perfect opportunity to consider a shorter week without loss of business.


The 4-day week at Perpetual Guardian – The look of its CEO

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