Starting in early June, South African employers are set to embark on a pilot program for a four-day working week. However, recent survey results from recruiter Robert Walters indicate potential drawbacks to this arrangement, particularly regarding office relationships.
The survey, which involved 2,000 working professionals, highlighted the “not-so-appealing side” of the four-day week, with office relationships being the most affected aspect. These findings coincide with the upcoming official launch of the pilot scheme in the country next month.
Jasmine Araujo, a senior manager at Robert Walters South Africa, expressed her disappointment in learning that a progressive well-being initiative like a four-day week could have a negative impact on workplace culture and business relationships. She emphasised that while the long-term impact of the trials is yet to be fully understood, companies need to be aware that a poor company culture comes at a cost, considering that 46% of professionals are willing to sacrifice social interactions and business relationships.
The concept of a four-day week has already been trialled in various countries across the UK, Europe, and North America, involving over 60 companies and approximately 2,900 employees. Many of these trials have been deemed successful.
However, when considering the combined data from these trials and the findings from the Robert Walters survey, it becomes evident that only one side of the picture has been portrayed. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the potential negative outcomes that may arise from a change in working days.
Key findings from a four-day week pilot trial in the UK include:
- The overall reduction in working hours fell short of the intended 32 hours, with only a four-hour decrease observed.
- 28% of participants reported working more hours or experiencing no change in their weekly hours.
- 49% reported no change in the amount of overtime they typically do, and 17% reported an increase in overtime.
- 22% reported an increase in burnout symptoms.
- 15% reported an increase in sleeping difficulties, while 45% stated that their sleep quality had not significantly improved or changed.
- 36% reported no change in their work-life balance, while 10% reported a decrease.
- 26% reported no change in their workability, while 19% reported a decrease.
- Only 2% stated that their workload had decreased, with 20% reporting an increase and 78% reporting no change.
- 36% reported an increase in work intensity.
- 42% reported an increase in the complexity of their work.
The South African companies participating in the pilot program include Precision Vehicle and Asset Tracking, Tax Maverick, Communicare, Marais Software, and Dream Team Catalyst.
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Photo by Ono Kosuki