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Demand for four-day week remains an SME issue

Workers are still interested in flexibility and improving their work-life balance, according to research from GetApp

After an initial flurry of channel firms adopting a four-day week, the debate appears to have moved back into the discussion, rather than action, stage.

Despite that shift, employee demand for a shorter working week remains strong, with research from GetApp indicating that 85% of UK computer-based employees are aware of the four-day working week and want their bosses to adopt the policy.

The findings also revealed that 74% of those interested in the concept would move jobs to work for an employer that offers more flexibility.

Levels of job dissatisfaction remain high, and the four-day week is part of a more general push by staff to improve their work-life balance.

“Many of the employees in our sample showed great interest in the four-day working week and predicted positive impacts if it were to be implemented in their organisation,” said David Jani, content analyst at GetApp UK. “This reflected a broader trend among employees demonstrating preferences for more flexibility in terms of working hours and the ability to work from home or remotely.”

In many respects, the genie is already out of the bottle, with many staff already taking advantage of hybrid working and increased flexibility that emerged as one of the few positives from the pandemic.

GetApp found that 61% of those quizzed already worked in a hybrid way, and 91% felt that flexibly was an important aspect of their job.

The GetApp survey also pushed respondents on the benefits of flexible working, with many believing it would improve worker satisfaction, reduce the rate of absences and increase productivity.

A few channel examples of the four-day week, including Highgate IT and Civo, have demonstrated that there are benefits for those that get the policy right.

Speaking at the time of its decision to make the shorter week permanent in November 2022, following a successful six-month trial, Highgate IT Solutions managing director Stuart Marginson said it had been a positive move. The business reported that staff were happier and service levels remained consistent, productivity increased and targets were hit or exceeded.

“We needed to find a balance between the well-being of our employees and the success of the business. We wanted to support our employees and ensure the right level of resource was available across the business at any given time. By not doing so, we risked overloading our employees, which could prove to have an adverse effect on their well-being and undo the positives that the four-day week brings,” he said.

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