Can Four-Day Work Week Be A Success In India? 

Since not all companies are able to offer Work-from-home or remote working, some have come up with a new solution that may be a win-win situation for all - a four-day work week
Can Four-Day Work Week Be A Success In India? 

Work-from-home, remote working or flexible working has become a buzzword these days, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Now, as normalcy returns, companies are finding it tough to make employees return to the office. 

Since not all companies are able to offer Work-from-home or remote working, some have come up with a new solution that may be a win-win situation for all - a four-day work week. 

What is a four-day week? 

The work culture has seen several changes in the past two years but the big shift that people may see in the coming time is getting fully paid for doing 80 per cent of their work hours at the same time maintaining 100 per cent productivity.

Employees would not have to wait for Fridays anymore to make plans with family or go out for trips as Thursdays would be the new Fridays under the four-day week. 

On Monday, the world’s biggest trial of a four-day work week kicked off in the UK, with more than 70 companies and 3,300 employees signed up for the global study. 

The programme is being organised by not-for-profit organisation ‘4 Day Week Global’ with the think tank Autonomy and backed by researchers from Cambridge and Oxford universities and Boston College. 

It is aimed at measuring productivity and well-being of staff over six months as they work a day less on the understanding of delivering similar results. 

“More than 3,300 workers, based throughout the UK and representing more than 30 sectors, are receiving 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity,” the 4 Day Week Campaign said in a statement. 

Worldwide, over 150 companies and 7,000 employees across the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand have signed up to participate in the six-month coordinated trials of the four-day working week as part of the 2022 programme. 

Is UK The Only Country To Experiment With A Four-Day Week? 

While the four-day work week is not a new concept, it's the timing for UK to experiment with this programme that has gained everyone's attention. 

Besides the UK, Spain and Scotland are also planning to start four-day week trials later this year. 

From 2015 to 2019, Iceland conducted a study on 2500 employees with 35 to 36 hours of work weeks without any pay cuts. 

The organisers of the UK event claimed that a similar trial in Iceland was an "overwhelming success". As per reports, The Philippines may also try this. 

The trade unions in Iceland have demanded a reduction in work hours. Around 90% of the employees in the country have either shifted to reduced hours or other accommodations.

Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, on average work around 27 hours a week -- the same hours proposed for a UK 4 day work week. 

Belgium is the latest country to join the league of nations that offer four day work week to its workers while the UAE is the first country to have adopted a four-and-a-half day per week.

Surprisingly, Japan, known for its overworked employees, is also considering implementing a four-day work week. 

Has the Four-Day Week Experiment Worked Well So Far? 

Some companies, like Perpetual Guardian from New Zealand, are already realising the benefits of a 4-day work. The company conducted a trial study of a 4-day work week. 

Not only did employees maintained the same productivity level, but they also showed improvements in job satisfaction, teamwork, work/life balance and company loyalty. 

From 2015 to 2017, Sweden conducted a trial study into a shorter work week. Nurses at a care home worked only 6 hours for five days a week. Results were largely positive with nurses logging less sick hours, reporting better health and mental wellbeing and greater engagement as they arranged 85% more activities for patients in their care. 

Besides other advantages, countries with shorter working hours have a smaller carbon footprint as well as employees don’t need to commute as much and large office buildings are only in use four days a week. 

A trial conducted in US showed a significant ecological impact from reducing the average work week from five to four days. During the first ten months, the project saved over US$1.8m in energy costs and a reduction of at least 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Challenges For Four-Day Work Week 

Implementing a four-day work week can be challenging for companies as it requires the right support, technology and workplace culture. 

Employees will still have to work for 35-38 hours meaning that they would have to work longer for each of the four days to get an additional day off, that may actually affect productivity and work-life balance. 

Will The Four-Day Week Work In India? 

Amid the buzz around a four-day work week globally, several people are hopeful in India as well as the government has come up with new labour codes that it plans to implement from July 1 which may pave the way for a four-day work week. 

The Centre has been working on designing four new labour codes in which there will be significant changes in employee’s salary, PF contributions and working hours. 

Under these new codes, a number of aspects related to work culture, including the take-home salary of the employees, working hours and the number of weekdays will be changed. 

However, the employees will have to meet the minimum of 48 work hours per week criteria-- 12 hours a day. If implemented, the employees will face a reduction in take-home salary with a higher Provident Fund (PF). 

While in some industries such as IT, it is possible, it is almost impossible in others such as FMCG, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, etc. 

That said, it became a challenge for companies to shift to work from home and remote working models after the Covid-19 pandemic, and the four-day work week model will be a tough task altogether for the companies in India. 

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