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[LISTEN] Four-Day Workweek on the Horizon for South Africans

2 min read

28 September 2022

17H00 CAT

Umm Muhammed Umar

Recent years have witnessed a change to our work and study environments, as well as to our working schedule, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now a local group plans to run a mass experiment, in 2023, with a four-day working week.

Radio Islam spoke to financial journalist and columnist, Nick Headley, about how the four-day workweek would it be implemented, and whether it would be a game changer. He said, “there’s been a couple of different ways companies have done it around the world – some have done an extended weekend, where employees take a Monday or a Friday off, and then you break up the week with a Wednesday off.” He added, “But the point is that the company will still operate for five days; you do shifts and that way, there’ll always be someone in a team who’s covering a normal workday.”

Employees generally know that they have a certain amount of work to accomplish for the week or for the month. Regarding whether the four-day work week was simply working less, working smarter, or taking work home (which is not ideal), Headley said that he had spoken to companies overseas who have done implemented this, and that they had been quite creative in attracting and retaining staff. He said that all of them had indicated that that a four-day workweek had actually resulted in greater productivity, than a five-day workweek. Headley said, “In fact, one of the companies I spoke to in the UK said they saw a 20% increase in productivity, measured by calls and sales and profits.” He said, “20% more work done in four days, than had been done five! You get used to cutting out the pointless meetings and the idle chatting by the watercooler.”

Another benefit of the four-day workweek is that the commute of the entire workforce is massively reduced, which, with climate change being an urgent issue, and companies having to measure their emission, results in quite large savings as well.

While the four-day workweek targets a particular class of worker, for example, those that are tech savvy, it’s as yet unknown how it would work for employees such as labourers or construction workers. The ideal is for a four-day workweek for all employees. Headley said every industry would have to find their own ways to make it work. He said, “It’s a bit more challenging, but it’s definitely doable and the rewards are there.”

Regarding compensation, Headley said that the agreement was for full pay, while retaining all benefits.

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