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Health implications for employees of a four-day workweek


3 min read | 7:43 am CAT

A South African company, IQbusiness, is one of the first businesses in the country to participate in a 4-Day Week work pilot programme. According to this concept, employees will put in the same number of hours but work only four days a week and still receive their full pay and benefits. The standard for decades has been an eight-hour day and forty or forty-five hours a week. There are now proposals for reducing hours with work fatigue and efficiency key factors.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Head of Healthcare Leadership at Stellenbosch Business School, Prof Renata Schoeman, believes it is time to discuss fewer working days.

According to Prof Schoeman, it is an international trend that people are moving toward with clear evidence that it might increase productivity and mental well-being.

She suggests a possible challenge may be to generalise it to the South African context and across industries, including organisations.

Crucial to acknowledge is the four-day week is a reduced number of hours per week which requires a peak in efficiency, which might not be suitable for everyone.

However, regarding mental health, Prof Schoeman said a four-day workweek might help make it more accessible for people to pay attention to self-care daily.

Meanwhile, as per Prof Schoeman, the hybrid environment is most likely ideal, which can be adjusted to what works for people.

“The hybrid model broader long is that we have more flexibility in working hours. A plan can be started surrounding the rhythm of people and also accommodate personal needs whilst still maintain productivity,” she says.

The danger of working from home is the lack of boundary prepping; it might aggravate the situation of working more hours a day.

Prof Schoeman further advises there is no answer on reducing either fewer working hours or days as it is industry specific.

Organisations have a corporate mental health responsibility but need to implement employee self-care.

“It will great be if we can save in polluting time and travel expenses for people, but still cannot be applied across industries,” she added.


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