Last week, the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos focused on the ongoing Ukraine conflict, climate change, inflation, energy security, and new technologies. But one issue drew more debate than others: hybrid working and shorter workweeks. There have been campaigns around the flexibility of working hours over the years, and different organizations and countries have tried it out, but the Covid pandemic has made the need for flexibility a reality.
Reducing the workweek has been gaining relevance across the globe. For instance, The United States, Iceland, Spain, and Canada have had trials of a four-day working week. In the next few weeks, about 60 UK companies are set to trial the four-day week over six months - a pilot lauded as the world’s most significant so far. It aims to help companies shorten their working hours without cutting salaries or sacrificing revenues. Australia and New Zealand are scheduled to start pilots in August.
Some companies presume that transition would be costly and reduce productivity, but several transnational companies implementing the four-day week have had positive results. In 2019, Microsoft Japan tested the viability of a four-day week over one month, reporting increased productivity and reduced electricity and printing costs. A 2019 research project by Hensley Business School also noted that the benefits of shorter working hours could have a substantial economic impact.
Balancing work life and family can be challenging for professional women and mothers. A four-day week could have a profound gender effect. Often women earn less than men because they work fewer hours, especially when children are born. I am a professional woman and mother to two young children. I am eight months old at ADAPTA, and working here has provided me with the greatest opportunity in my eight-year career. ADAPTA is a Climate Adaptation FinTech directed to the agriculture sector and a four-day week company. I am free to spend one day a week with my children. We do homework together, sing nursery rhymes with my two-year-old, and have enough time to hang out. When I told a friend that we are a four-day week company, she couldn’t believe it and asked me to request my boss to offer her a position here. Companies like ADAPTA are few in Kenya, if at all they exist. My colleague, Mercy, told me she does not need to take any day off since the three-day weekend is enough for her to rest and bond with her family.
I am so motivated to work extra hours. I come to work very early in the morning; sometimes, I am always willing to skip lunch and leave late to meet my week’s target. There are no frequent personal or sick days off, and I am as productive as ever and happy working here.
The productivity and success of every company and organization depend on how employees feel at work. Happy employees are loyal, care more about the company, produce high-quality work, and usually extend their happiness to clients. You can join an exciting company and have a great life. Companies and organizations need to start thinking differently about four-day-week to attract, recruit, and retain talent.