20th January 2022
Hannah Ridgley, Director of Culture & Kindness

The professional divide on the 4-day working week

This week it was announced that an international 4-day working week trial is underway and the UK is taking part, with 30 companies signing up for 6 months. Joe O’Connor, pilot programme manager for 4-day Week Global, said “[2022] will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work”.

Many other countries around the world have already implemented a shorter working week with average working hours far below the UK: France (30 hours), The Netherlands (27 hours), and Germany the lowest at 25.6 hours. Japan is known for its workaholic culture, and it’s not uncommon for employees to die from being overworked. Last year, the Japanese government recommended that companies allow staff members to opt for a 4-day week, and Panasonic has been the latest company to offer the scheme. I almost called it a ‘benefit’, but is looking after our own well-being a benefit? It needs to be considered as a given. That companies and countries are fostering such a high-stress work culture that employees are dying is unacceptable– employee well-being is surely a human right.

A lot of us have backgrounds at big corporates where the bottom line is the focus, day in, day out, at the detriment of the employee – but even though the last 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time in history that we’d rather forget (and certainly wish it never happens again) – there has been a lot of positive movement across all industries to focus on employee well-being, both mental and physical. We are very lucky at KVA to have a supportive senior leadership team, who always put the team first and constantly want to give back to us. Our CEO, Kelly Allison, has always wanted us to experience the things that she experiences; she isn’t locked away in a glass office. She’s an integral part of the team that actually feels like a family. For real.

Considering a 4-day week at KVA is quite surreal. Personally, I think we work on such exciting projects, always pushing boundaries, and the team are all so close, that we might get FOMO on that 5th day! We are all about making efficiencies, working smarter not harder and working flexibly around our home lives – we all have this message in our email signatures:

The KVA Way: we all live increasingly fast paced lives and as such, KVA have fully flexible working. If I’m sending this email out of normal office hours, it’s because it helps my work/life balance. I would only like a response when the time suits you best :)

For us, as we already adopt a ‘work from anywhere, anytime’ policy (even pre-COVID), we believe that this trumps a 4-day week. How you ask? A lot of our team are working mums and dads, who work at times that suit them best – around the school run, after dinner etc. or others have hobbies or family to look after, which interrupts the traditional 9–5. So, allowing our team to complete their daily tasks and meet their objectives at a time that suits them (and working with like-minded client partners that also support this way of working), massively takes away the stress and anxiety of making sure everything is done at a set time. If we were then to say that they had to squeeze that time into only 4 days, this might be an additional stress for some – not all, granted, but some.

We’re always open to new ways of working (we’re one of the first agencies to implement unlimited paid holiday!), and the 4-day week will work for millions of people I’m sure, but for me, flexibility is the clear winner here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

#flexibility #futureofwork #4dayweek #TeamKVA #theworldisourstoexplore