4-day workday or 7-day workweek?

Published on 05/04/2024

4-day workday or 7-day workweek?

Published on 05/04/2024
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4-day workday or 7-day workweek?

In a few months, Spain will begin a labor experiment to test the viability of a 4-day, 32-hour workweek. A government-driven trial involving around 160 companies and approximately 3,000 workers. However, this is not a novelty. In countries like Iceland, Australia, the USA, or Belgium, numerous companies have already implemented these new work models, which involve reducing both the number of days and hours worked per week.

This model is advocated by some experts for certain types of activities as part of the solution to create more jobs, improve work-life balance, and as a countermeasure to the growing problem of work-related stress that affects employee health, performance, and organizational productivity.

However, another proposal is emerging in companies seeking more creative and adaptable alternatives to current societal needs, such as the 7-day workweek, where professionals can choose which days to work.

But how do these innovative and cutting-edge work modalities function? How can they be implemented within the current business model? Is the 4-day workweek better, or the 7-day workweek? Which one is more conducive to labor productivity? To answer all these emerging questions, let’s begin by defining the two aforementioned work models.

What does the 4-day workweek entail?

The methodology of the 4-day workweek essentially involves reducing the weekly working hours from 40 to 36. This proposes a four-day workweek, from Monday to Thursday, including telecommuting days as determined by the company, and providing a three-day break.

In theory, this reduction in working hours should not reduce or alter the salary benefits of the company’s professionals. However, there have been identified cases where the reduced work hours minimally affect salary perception.

In Spain, Telefónica was the first company to take the step towards implementing the 4-day workweek, followed soon after by the fashion and textile company Desigual with 86% support from its workers.

This has prompted a pilot project for subsidies in the country, aimed at companies looking to implement this 4-day workweek model. The pilot project is driven by Más País in the 2022 General State Budget project and could benefit around 160 companies with over 3,000 workers.

The 7-day workweek, an innovative and flexible model

The 7-day workweek opts to complete the 40 hours over the days each employee chooses, whether it’s 3 days, 4, 5, or 6.5 days.

For this option to be realistic and facilitate teamwork, organizations must set some availability windows during which team members coincide either remotely or in person. The rest of the time is flexible and entirely dependent on the employee, who is responsible for self-managing their work time.

In sectors and activities where feasible, such as technology and services, this work model expands as a third alternative to reconcile profession and personal life in a flexible and individualized manner, provided there are digital programs for time management and project management with performance metrics, enabling employees to manage their time and have a constant overview of their progress.

In the UK, several companies are already working with this model, and both employees and senior management widely accept it. The explanation lies in the benefits this model offers in terms of flexibility.

In fact, our CEO Joan Pons considers that “the ideal model that will increasingly prevail in the coming years is the 7-day model because remote work opportunities are rapidly increasing thanks to computer tools. These tools also improve productivity and employee well-being by optimizing processes and simplifying task and personnel management, offering flexible hours as one of their differential benefits.”

7-Day Workweek versus 4-Day Workweek

To compare the two work models – the 4-day workweek and the 7-day workweek – below are some aspects to consider for potential implementation in your company.

Flexibility and Time Management

The 7-day workweek, unlike the 4-day workweek, maintains total working hours. Thus, the 40 weekly hours can be distributed according to personal needs or preferences throughout the entire week.

Salary Perception and Economic Balance

With the 7-day workweek, the employee’s salary is not reduced, as seen in the 4-day workweek model, where most proposals in implementing companies advocate proportionally reducing the salary of those who opt for this model. This reduction leads to the rejection of many professionals.

The company is also not economically affected by the reduction in work hours, as it would have to assign those hours to another worker, thus increasing production costs.

Funding or Official Assistance

The 7-day workweek does not require funding or financial assistance from official bodies, unlike the pilot project for the 4-day workweek, as the same amount of work hours is maintained.

Telecommuting and Work-Life Balance

Both the 4-day workweek and the 7-day workweek offer a rational proposal in line with current times and needs of both companies and workers, whose activities are increasingly decentralized and require more flexibility.

Flexibility is, in fact, one of the rising values ​​today in both job offers and demand and for talent retention. However, managing flexibility requires effective time measurement and recording tools.

Labor Productivity

By implementing either of the two models – the 4-day workweek or the 7-day workweek – productivity not only remains stable but may even increase due to better employee performance.

The fact that the worker distributes and manages their own activity and time for its development fosters their well-being and commitment to the organization because it strengthens the trust relationship between both parties.

Work-related Stress and Disconnect

Both proposals are modalities that generate less stress than the traditional one because, by adapting to the needs of each individual, they allow the activity to be developed autonomously, focusing on objectives rather than schedules or physical presence.

Additionally, having computer tools for comprehensive activity and schedule management provides peace of mind to the professional, as they are aware of the progress of their projects and pending tasks at all times, promoting health and digital disconnection, necessary for reconciliation and professional motivation.

Now that you have compared the 4-day workweek model with the new 7-day workweek model, which would benefit your employees and consequently your company more? Analyze all factors and make the best decision.

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