Is the 4-Day Work Week the Future of Finance?

by | 16 Nov 2023

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Dreaming of a long weekend? Some Australians get one every week – with full-time pay. The concept of 4-day work weeks isn’t new, but it has been gaining significant traction, especially in the finance sector. If you’re a business owner contemplating this shift, you might be asking, “Are 4-day work weeks better?”. We’ve done some digging to see if it really is as good as it sounds.

The Rise of the 4-Day Work Week

While the 5-day work week has been a global standard for decades, the idea of compressing 40 hours into four days started gaining popularity in the 2010s. The underlying reasons? Evolving technology, increased automation, and a drive towards prioritising work-life balance.

Fueled by modern work tools, there’s been a seismic shift in the way businesses function. Digital transformation and the rise of fintech businesses have allowed professionals to accomplish their tasks more efficiently, paving the way for flexible working hours.

The 4-Day Work Week in Australia

In Australia, the 4-day work week has been put to the test across various industries, with promising results that might shape the future of work down under. A popular model is the 100:80:100 model – 100% pay for 80% of the traditional work hours, contingent on maintaining 100% productivity. A study by Swinburne University of Technology found that, among 10 companies trialling the 100:80:100 model, 70% reported a surge in productivity, while the remainder saw no productivity loss.

Diverse in their approach, client-facing firms opted to maintain a 5-day presence with staggered staff schedules, while others granted a collective day off to their teams. The trial spanned across sectors such as consulting, logistics, and healthcare, mostly within smaller enterprises.

Meanwhile, a larger pilot by 4 Day Week Global with 26 organisations yielded a striking 95% continuation preference, alongside a 44.3% decrease in absenteeism and an 8.6% reduction in resignations. This positive trend begs the question of whether a broader adoption could be on the horizon for the country’s financial services sector.

Benefits of 4-Day Work Weeks

The 4-day work week is often touted as a modern solution to increase productivity, reduce procrastination, and improve staff wellbeing, but let’s unpack this a bit.

Increased Productivity
Contrary to traditional beliefs, less can indeed be more. Studies have shown that employees tend to be more focused, motivated, and productive when they have an extended weekend to recharge.

Better Staff Wellbeing
Having a three-day weekend can significantly reduce burnout. This extra day off can lead to improved mental health, fewer sick days, and an overall happier workforce.

Cost-Efficiency for Businesses
Operating for fewer days can translate to lower overhead costs. Think utility bills, day-to-day operations, saving on office space, and other expenses.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The major drawback? The risk of overwork. Compressing 40 hours into 4 days can lead to longer working days, which, if not managed correctly, can become counterproductive.

Which Financial Giants Have Hopped on the Bandwagon?

You’d be surprised. Many renowned financial entities and fintech businesses have initiated trials or fully embraced 4-day work weeks. Companies with 4-day work weeks include Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft, and many more leaders in the industry.

In a case study with Kickstarter, their Chief Strategy Officer, Jon Leland, has said: “The 4-day week remains a success at Kickstarter more than 12 months later. It not only improved work-life balance but also fostered a more productive, creative, and happier workforce.” The success at Kickstarter and other case studies suggest that a 4-day work week could really change the game for workers and companies alike, providing a useful example for others thinking about making the change.

Behind the Shift: Who Initiated the Idea?

The 4-day workweek concept was brought to global attention by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart, who founded 4 Day Week Global in 2019. They’ve been working with companies around the world to test and implement this idea through their 6-month pilot programs.

Who Truly Benefits from the 4-Day Model?

This is a win-win situation. Both the businesses and staff reap the rewards. Employees get more personal time, better mental health, and a more focused work environment. On the flip side, businesses benefit from a more engaged workforce, which often translates to better results, fewer sick days, and lower turnover rates. But remember – this initiative needs to be implemented correctly to prevent overworking your staff in these shorter periods of time.

The Results Speak for Themselves

Companies that have made the shift often boast positive outcomes. According to Drive Research, 33% of organisations offer 4-day, 40-hour work weeks. The research also found that 56% of employees would rather work a 40-hour work week in 4 days instead of 5 days, and 77% of workers reported increased productivity. We’ve looked into benefits vs. salary before, and Drive Research found that 58% of employees would choose a 4-day work week over a pay rise.

Are 4-Day Work Weeks Better? The Reason Behind the 4-Day Trend

Why introduce a 4-day work week? The simple answer is the ever-changing landscape of the professional world. At its core, the 4-day workweek is all about matching work to our lives today – where most families have two parents at work, caring for our mental health is a must, and work/life balance is key. It’s a fresh way for businesses to think about work when we’ve all got so much else going on.

Towards Tomorrow: The Financial Sector’s 4-Day Future

It seems that the finance sector is heading towards a future where 4-day work weeks might become the norm rather than the exception. If you’re contemplating this shift for your business, weigh the pros and cons, understand your organisational needs, and potentially jump on this trend before it becomes mainstream.

Find the Right Finance Fit with Godfrey Group

With almost 20 years of experience, Godfrey Group has honed the expertise required to connect top-tier talent with financial services firms across the country. Whether you’re seeking to enrich your team with qualified professionals or aiming to elevate your career to new heights, we are your dedicated partner in this journey. Contact us today on 02 8004 9350.

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