Say Good-Bye to Work Culture: Proffesionals Now Prefer 4-Day-Week to Work Socials and Relationships

According to recent data, three quarters of professionals (71%) have shared that they would be willing to give up work socials and relationships with colleagues, in favour of a 4-day working week.

The findings come from a recent poll by leading recruiter Robert Walters, of 3,000+ working professionals – and highlights the ‘not-so appealing side’ of the 4-day week to employers, with office relationships taking the biggest hit.

Chris Poole – Managing Director of Robert Walters UK, comments:

“Workplaces have only just turned a corner and started to see more faces in the office – with that has come a burst of energy, collaboration, creativity, and productivity. It is a slight kick-in-the-teeth to hear that a progressive well-being initiative such as a 4-day week could have such a detrimental impact on workplace culture and business relationships.

“With the trials of 4-days being so new to many organisations, the long-term impact is hard to ascertain – but with 71% of professionals willing to forego socials and business relationships, companies should be mindful that poor company culture already costs the UK economy upwards of £20bn a year.

“As with what we experienced with remote working and then the move to hybrid, any change in the workplace brings about its challenges – and a 4-day week will be no different, business leaders need to tread with caution.”

Whilst professionals would give up the social side of their working lives, only 13% are inclined to forego hybrid work arrangements, and only 7% would sacrifice training opportunities in favour of less working days.

Entitlement at its Best?

According to the findings from Robert Walters, a staggering 91% of professionals would be keen for their employer to implement a 4-day week. In fact, a 4-day week now tops the poll on most desirable perks when applying for a job – with 49% stating that this would appeal to them most on a job description, followed by the ability to work from anywhere (35%).

With half of professionals who would like a 4-day week expecting their full pay to remain the same, debates have begun on whether the post-pandemic workforce are ‘the most entitled yet’ – with fewer professionals feeling responsibility for the financial health or stability of their employer.

Just 15% of professionals stated that they would take a 10-15% pay increase over the option of a 4-day week, and it seems office-based soft perks such as work socials or complimentary lunch or breakfasts, are less appealing in the face of fewer working days – with just 1% stating that they would opt for this over a 4-day working week.

Chris adds: “It is absolutely right that workplaces should be held more accountable for the wellbeing of their employees, however professionals need to be considerate to the fact this responsibility goes both ways, and they have a duty to contribute to the success of a business, especially in this current period of economic uncertainty.”

The Hidden Data

Earlier this year the independent trail of 60+ companies and around 2,900 employees undertaking a 4-day week concluded – with many highlighting this as a resounding success.

However, when this data is combined with findings from the Robert Walters poll, it seems that possibly only one side of the picture has been painted, as a result it’s also important to consider the potentially negative outcomes of a change in working days.

Key findings from the 4-day Week Pilot Trail include:

  • Overall working hours only reduced by 4 hours – falling short of the 32 it was meant to achieve
  • 28% reported either working more hours, or no change to their 5-days a week hours
  • 49% reported no change in the typical amount of overtime they do – further 17% reported doing more overtime
  • 22% reported an increase in burnout-symptoms
  • 15% reported an increase in sleeping difficulties – further 45% stated that their sleeping quality hadn’t improved/changed significantly
  • 36% reported no-change to work-life balance – further 10% reported a decrease
  • 26% reported no change to work-ability – with 19% reporting a decrease
  • Just 2% stated workload had decreased – 20% reported an increase, and 78% reported no-change
  • 36% reported work-intensity had increased
  • 42% reported an increase in complexity of their work

Chris adds: “Highlighting this data is by no means a way of pointing out that a 4-day week cannot work. Just as with every kind of trial, a balanced view of the results needs to be provided to assist us in understanding what does and doesn’t work. There is definitely a place for the 4-day working week in business but maybe it’s not the silver-bullet to increase productivity and improved wellbeing, as first thought.”

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