24 May 2023

Is the 4-day working week a no brainer?  

Wrong. It’s very much a brainer.  

BlackRock are calling 20,000 staff back into the office for 4 days a week from September.  

Maybe it’s a move to set the business up for a 4-day working week longer term. We don’t know.  

But it’s a risk.  

Before flexible/hybrid working became mainstream, the majority of the workforce in the UK would have jumped at the 4-day working week.  

And to clarify, that means (and what has been trialled) is 32-hour weeks Mon-Thursday, for the same pay.  

But now, maybe not. 

4 day working week vs flexible hybrid working 

We did a quick poll here at McCann Synergy and asked our team: Would you rather? 

  1. 4 day working week with every day spent in the office? 
  2. 5 day working week with mandatory 3 days in the office? 

A very quick show of hands showed that not everyone would take a 4-day working week if it meant losing the autonomy of deciding how much/when that time is spent in the office – in fact it was a near 50/50 split.  

Also, some of us, simply can’t go back to the office full time, whatever full time means!  

Parents in particular just won’t be able to. So there goes a whole load of talent straight away. As well as the very serious risk of putting back up the barriers to demographics than the world of work is fighting hard to remove.  

C-suite members be aware

So C-suite members who will be making these calls – listen to the warning – when we talk about the ‘give and the get’ in the world of Employee Experience, don’t see a 4-day week as something employees will see as the get that trumps everything else. 

Cultures based on trust work

We’re lucky here to have a culture that is based on trust. We continue to work flexibly which means we have that 50% of people who value autonomy and flexibility over everything else. If we went the same way as BlackRock, we’d be much worse for it.  

If you’re wondering how your employees feel about the future of flexible working, it’s important to establish what your culture needs first. We help organisations gain a competitive advantage by understanding the nature and distribution of their organisation’s culture – and how to improve it. Find out more. [use https://www.mccannsynergy.com/employee-solutions-suite/culture-audit/ ] 

 Alex Wood, Strategist

Our people unleashing the power of your people

An expert in creative Global Communications Campaigns, working with some of the world’s biggest brands, Alex loves finding out why people do what they do. He loves finding original ways to make people’s lives better. He assures it can be done. You just have to really listen to what they want from work.


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