The idea is thrilling, to say the least. Work from Monday to Thursday and you are off. Sounds right and exciting. 4-day workweek gives you extra time to pursue leisure activities or extended time with the family. The idea of 4-day week has been around since the 1920’s so to say that it suddenly popped out of somewhere will undermine the vision of few. Yes, the idea is exciting but is it convincing enough in Indian work parlance and are we ready to embrace this. There aren’t enough studies in the Indian context to support or reject the idea. As an employee one would be interested in the implementation of this. Is it?
Let’s look at a study recently conducted:
69 percent of full-time Indian employees said they would work five days a week even if they had the option to work fewer days for the same pay.*
Surprised, you ought to be. Who would even remotely think of working an extra day when you are paid the same for working a day less. The study says that employees are self -driven to work extra day and hours since they believe it’s a prerequisite for career growth and they put pressure on themselves to work hard and extra hours.
Microsoft Japan is one such case study where a 4-day week gave a 40% boost to productivity. Not only the productivity increased but the company saved on electricity consumption by 23% downside and paper print expenses of around 59%. Doesn’t this tell a story and makes case for the Indian context.
The idea may be old but it’s only recently that companies across the world are giving it a try. Since it has recently gained momentum there aren’t enough study and data points to validate a positive or negative claim. For every Microsoft which found success, there is a Treehouse(offers virtual classes for learning how to code) which failed and nixed the policy stating that the idea leads to a lack of work ethic which resulted in poor business.
India works under a lot of proprietorship companies which also comes under the non-organized sector and a 4-day workweek imagination would be far fetched as of now.
The Yes ones
Count me in. Does it matter right now? Employees are hooked to the idea and believe that a 4-day workweek ensures better time management and work-life balance. Things get prioritized and work gets done. People are ready to put in extra hours daily if this gives them flexibility at work. Time to travel, learning new skills and extended family time will eventually make an employee happy and that percolates to work which is a win-win situation.
While we might be termed among the hard-working countries our productivity has always been on the lower side. Will the 4-day week result in a productivity boost? The Indian managers have always been complaining regarding Monday blues the employees face while the second half of Fridays gets lost due to weekend euphoria. Another case in point is extended leaves that employees might take to make it even better in terms of extended vacations.
The argument looks simple from an employee perspective as everyone loves a long weekend but there will be many challenges. For starters, it would be difficult to implement in service industries and would require windfall changes in services such as teaching, banking, and healthcare, etc. Sales roles will need revamping and adapted accordingly since they are over-dependent on customer needs.
All taken into account the idea is worth a try even if it requires slow progress through pilot tests. Every idea requires tweaking and consistent changes to finally make a workable product. Arguments over productivity and other issues will need extensive research and data points to make this a reality in the longer run. A spare day can be utilized in many ways; skill upgrade, volunteering activities and training. A spare day can also mean laxity and callousness towards work due to multiple distractions.
In the end, the companies need to decide and test whether this works for their businesses. There are industries such as IT which provide facilities such as work from home and flexible timings. People against the idea are also of the view that rather than long working hours the work environment and solutions towards better time management and work-life balance in 5 days can be worked upon.
A trial run is the only way to find out what works best. Let’s say it all works out and 4-day workweek becomes a reality then cheers as TGIT would become a new norm.
*Study conducted by Kronos Incorporated in 2018