New research asks whether we could we be closer to a four-day week

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Wednesday afternoon off

New research launching today has found  that a four-day working week with Friday off isn’t yet feasible for most businesses.  However, a mid-week break on Wednesday afternoon would be both more realistic and  more effective in terms of boosting employee productivity*. 

Despite the flurry of companies that have recently launched a four-day week by giving their  employees Friday off, ​less than half ​of businesses think their company would benefit if  their employees had 3-day weekends. Meanwhile, others (50 per cent) simply do not think a  four-day week will work in practice at the moment. This mirrors what we have seen so far  from early adopters of the four-day week, many of whom have rolled it out at the expense  of lunch breaks or annual leave.

Rosie Warin, CEO of behaviour change company Kin&Co said,

There are many types of  alternative shorter week – the six hour day, the four day week – but from the data, the psychology  and our own practical trial, we strongly believe that the Wednesday Off-ternoon is not only the  most beneficial for employees, but also the most practical and accessible option to businesses  today. With 70 per cent of companies ready to trial the Wednesday Off-ternoon immediately, we expect  this trend to sweep the UK.

The research found that ​three-quarters of business owners​ notice a significant dip in  their employees’ energy levels mid-week. 90 per cent of businesses are actively looking for ways to  improve productivity in their organisation, while ​80 per cent​ believe giving Wednesday afternoon off would boost employee productivity. Because of these benefits, ​70 per cent of business  owners would consider trialing a Wednesday Off-ternoon immediately.​ This is  compared to just over half for a 4-day week.

Dr. Gail Kinman, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology and expert in work-life  balance, commented:

​Stress in the workplace and poor work-life balance are serious  problems for British businesses, with millions of hours lost to stress-related illness every  year. The Wednesday ‘Off-ternoon’ has the potential to be revolutionary for the UK  economy – particularly given how well Wednesday afternoon off has worked for the  education sector. By helping employees to switch off mid week and have a chance to rest  or focus on personal interests, they are far more likely to recover mentally and physically,  return to work more productive and have lower stress levels in the long term.

The mid-week slump is a trend the education sector recognised years ago and it is why  many schools, colleges and universities offer sports options or hours free from lessons on  Wednesday afternoons to help pupils recharge. The majority of primary schools in France  and the Netherlands already give Wednesday afternoon off, while 2016’s ​Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free​ (KWAF) campaign still actively runs on university campuses across the UK  today.

Jhanvi Gudka, senior project manager at Kin&Co​, said,

​We’re all about doing things  differently at Kin&Co – from our value of ‘staying playful (because why shouldn’t work be fun) to  hosting our team away day at a festival. The Wednesday Off-ternoon started as a one-off idea,  but as soon as we started enforcing it we realised how much it transformed our culture. Energy  levels on a Thursday are now at their highest – and staff continually refer to it as the best thing  about working at the company.

*By Kin&Co, the research was conducted amongst 200 HR professionals in November 2018.

Interested in employee performance and wellbeing?  Join our Re-engineering Performance Management training and our Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019

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