The Four-Day Work Week: Advantages and Disadvantages for Malta
Before going all in the Four-Day Work Week let’s revisit the traditional five day workweek first. The five-day workweek, which includes Monday through Friday, has been the norm for many decades. The origins of this schedule can be traced back to the early 1930s, when business leaders such as Henry Ford and John Boot in the USA and UK recognized the benefits of allowing employees two days off per week. Prior to this, the standard workweek was six days, with most businesses only closed on Sunday.
However, it’s important to note that the working week is not set in stone and can be subject to change. Monday through Friday as the only acceptable work schedule may not align with current expectations and challenges faced by businesses today.
In recent years, flexibility has become increasingly important for professionals in the modern era. The events of 2020 accelerated this trend as businesses had to adapt to remote or flexible working strategies. The ability to work from home reduced the burden of commuting for many individuals, leading to improved time management, cost savings, and reduced stress levels. This has in turn led to increased engagement and retention for businesses.
What are Companies Doing About it?
Many companies exploring reducing workweek to 4 days, while maintaining salary. This way employees can work slightly fewer hours per week, often 34 or 35 instead of 37 to 40, while still receiving the same pay.
The reduction in commuting time has made this option more feasible for many people, who can now start their workday from the comfort of their own home without wasting time on transportation. This initiative allows professionals more time to relax, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy their hard-earned money, which can help keep capital flowing for many industries.
The benefits of a four day workweek include employees earning the same wage while spending less time at work, being more productive, having a reduced risk of burnout, and being less likely to change jobs.
Is it too good to be true? Can it really work for all businesses?
The answer is, it depends. While a four day workweek can bring many benefits, it may not be viable for certain positions within a company. The key is to offer reduced hours as an option rather than a rule, and encourage employees to manage their own time to best take advantage of such a scheme. The biggest challenge in implementing a four day workweek is the shift in traditional working values and the perception of productivity.
There are already several companies that have successfully implemented a four day workweek, such as Atom Bank and Microsoft Japan. In 2019, Microsoft Japan boosted sales by nearly 40% during an experiment in which staff worked a four-day week for full pay. They also found that employees took 25% fewer days off and noted significant increases in operational efficiency.
Unilever is currently running a one year experiment from December 2020 to December 2021, giving its New Zealand staff the opportunity to reduce their hours by 20%. The goal of the test is to “measure performance on output not time,” said Nick Bangs, Managing Director of Unilever New Zealand. He further explains that “this is about a holistic understanding of how work and life fit together, and improving mental and physical wellbeing.”
As these examples show, a four day workweek can be a viable and positive option for businesses, especially as candidate expectations move towards more flexibility. Companies that are able to successfully implement a four day workweek will likely have an advantage in attracting and retaining top talent.
How a Four-Day Work Week Could Work in Malta
Despite the potential disadvantages, a four day work week could still be a viable option for Malta. One way to implement a four day work week would be to do so on a trial basis. This would allow employers to assess the effectiveness of the change and make any necessary adjustments before committing to a permanent change.
Another important factor in implementing a four day work week in Malta would be to offer flexible schedule options to accommodate different types of roles and industries. Some employees may prefer a Monday or Friday day off, others may prefer mid-week. By offering flexible schedule options, employers can better accommodate the needs of their employees and ensure that business operations are not disrupted.
Clear communication and guidelines would also need to be established to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing success of a four day work week. Employers would need to clearly communicate the changes and any expectations for employees, and provide guidelines for scheduling and communication. Additionally, regular check-ins and evaluations would be important to ensure that the four day work week is meeting the needs of both employers and employees.
Finally, cooperation and input from both employers and employees would be essential for the successful implementation of a four day work week in Malta. Employers and employees would need to work together to ensure that business operations are not disrupted and that the needs of all parties are met. By working together, employers and employees can ensure that a four day work week is a viable and beneficial option for Malta.
In conclusion, while a four day work week can bring many benefits, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Employers and employees in Malta would need to consider the specific needs and challenges of their industry and organization before implementing this change. By offering flexible schedule options, establishing clear communication, guidelines, and working together, a four day work week could be a viable option for Malta. It may Improve work-life balance, increases productivity, reduces absenteeism, turnover and saves costs.
Make sure to check out our list of job vacancies in Malta. We might have some offering a four day work week already!