Is a 4 Day Work Week the Solution to a Work-Life Balance?

For most a three day weekend comes only on a bank holiday a few times a year, but the future could look a little different. Monday welcomed the beginning of the 4 day work week trial, and those companies who agreed to participate have begun their restructure. Over the next 6 months, more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies will be working 4 days a week with no loss of pay. The trial promises full pay to all its workers, for 80% less of the time, while they commit to maintain 100% productivity. Researchers will measure the impact this has on productivity and wellbeing, as well as environment and gender equality.

The trial comes at a time when work-life balance is jumping up peoples priority list. The pandemic shifted attitudes about flexibility, with more people than ever actively looking for opportunities that work around their lives, rather than working their lives around work. Whether or not a 3 day weekend would mitigate that wish without jeopardising output is yet to be determined, but it could create a more inclusive working culture. Research on the gender pay gap by the Government shows that around 2 million British people are currently unable to seek employment due to childcare responsibilities, 86% of which are women. More flexibility would mean that expenses such as childcare could be more manageable, with an extra day to be with their family. Not only this, but a study in New Zealand found that a 4 day work week even increased productivity, with workers less likely to experience burnout and stress.

The future of the work week is uncertain, but the pandemic forced a massive cultural change in attitudes about work-life balance and flexible working in general. A work life balance has become a greater priority for many, and while it is being determined if a 4 day working week is the answer, bringing hybrid working out of pandemic life and into normal everyday structures could help create a more inclusive culture to your business. Sounds simple right?  Well for many offices these changes haven’t always been smooth sailing. According to a report from the University of Leeds, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to hybrid working. In a survey of nearly 800 UK office workers, they found that 72% prefer to work from the office at least once a week, but only 18% felt their offices had been adjusted for hybrid working.  The findings suggest that effectively implementing a hybrid-working policy requires a lot of factors to be considered including IT, work process, organisational goals and culture. There are a number of factors that are unique to your organisation’s set-up when introducing a hybrid model, to ensure that you’re utilising a hybrid model effectively, ACAS recommends:

  • Creating or updating a policy and circulating to all employees it applies to
  • Amending employment contracts to reflect any changes where necessary
  • Treating staff fairly to not put those who work from home at a disadvantage
  • Provide training on working from home

Want to hear our insights on Hybrid working? Check out or webinar on ‘Executing a New Work Strategy’ here to hear Adrienne and Peter discuss some of the challenges employers face and answer your questions.

If you would like to evaluate your organisations approach to hybrid working then reach out to us for our advice – Meet the team – MPM Legal.