The four-day week (paid for five), the future in business?

Dans l'entreprise héraultaise Radioshop, la trentaine de salariés exerce quatre jours par semaine depuis janvier 2021.

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Posted Jul 27, 2022, 7:37 AMUpdated on Jul 27, 2022 at 3:17 PM

Do a lot of shopping and clean your house from top to bottom. This is what the Saturday afternoons of Karine, 38, looked like. But now, she takes care of these chores on Fridays and devotes her entire weekend to her children. Like her colleagues, this accountant has switched to a four-day week. And to hear it, to try it is to adopt it. “I can't imagine myself working five days a week. Having three days off is much nicer! » she enthuses.

It is precisely to have more fulfilled employees that his employer, Radioshop, has reviewed their schedule. In this company which designs personalized musical playlists intended for points of sale, employees have expressed their desire to have more time for themselves after the first two confinements. “They asked to be able to telecommute or finish earlier on Friday afternoon, relates Thomas Bergerot, founder and general manager of the company based in the metropolis of Montpellier. But with my partner, we were not convinced by telework, which in our opinion erodes group cohesion. »

The partners prefer to test the four-day week and then submit its adoption by referendum to the thirty or so employees, who vote unanimously in favor. Since January 2021, all have been exercising four days a week, being absent on Fridays or Mondays. And this, regardless of their profession, whether they are web developers, artistic or commercial directors.

No pay cut

Their remuneration has not decreased, but their working hours have. Farewell to the 35-hour week, place at 32 hours with eight hours of daily work, against seven before. “The days are a little more intense but I feel more focused, I spread myself out a little less”explains Marjorie, a 26-year-old salesperson.

She also sees nothing but positive things about going away for the weekend on Thursday evening. “I'm fixing up a house, it's demanding and quite tiring. From now on, I can allow myself two days for work and another to take time for myself, to rest. » Another advantage of having this extra free day for this employee: being able to make medical appointments or settle administrative tasks.

If the management of Radioshop is satisfied with this change a year and a half after its adoption, the companies that have taken the plunge are the exception. “This mode of organization could however develop because there is a real demand from candidates and employees who wish to have more time for themselves”observes Marie-Rachel Jacob, professor of strategic management of human resources at emlyon business school.

Retain employees and attract candidates

It is to meet these aspirations that the consulting and technology company Accenture set up “the flexible week” in June. The idea: to allow its employees to organize their schedule according to their needs. Continue to five days, go to four days, change the pace each week, keep the same schedule all year… The possibilities are endless.

“The objective is to increase their well-being and make them want to stay with the company, develops Jacqueline Haver-Droeze, HRD at Accenture London. It is also an argument for recruiting. » At the same time, the company offers an “à la carte telecommuting” model, where employees are free to telecommute as much as they wish.

At a time when many sectors and trades lack arms, Léa Binet-Ferté, deputy general manager of Great Place To Work in London, is also convinced that the four-day week can be a differentiating lever for recruiting. “Particularly for companies that can no longer play on wages or that cannot offer telework because they need their employees on site”, she notes. And to observe that the four-day week can be offered in many sectors. Witness the Toutain bodywork, installed in Sarthe, where the twenty employees work 35 hours from Monday to Thursday (i.e. 8:45 a.m. per day) since the beginning of 2021.

Organizational changes

What about the workload? At Accenture, the tasks incumbent on employees do not change, regardless of the mode of organization they choose. For the time being, the HRD estimates that between 500 and 1,000 employees have adopted “the flexible week”, out of the nearly 10,000 employees that the company has in London. A figure set to grow sharply according to her.

Obviously, this way of working requires a certain organization. What is more in a company where one is in relation with customers. At Radioshop, the teams agree each semester on who will take their Friday or Monday for the next six months. The goal is to ensure continuity of service. “Finally, it's a bit like when an employee goes on vacation. The others take their files or wait for them to return if it is not urgent”explains Thomas Bergerot.

To optimize the days, meetings are shorter and less frequent. The company also supported its employees to learn how to prioritize their tasks. “I can't say if their productivity has increased but in any case, it has not decreased”, assures the entrepreneur. His collaborators manage to do in 32 hours what they did in 35. “And the atmosphere is better”he welcomes.

Doubts about its development

A model that can be duplicated everywhere in London? In fact, not all employees can benefit from this flexibility, according to Marie-Rachel Jacob, in particular because it requires organizing a rotation between the workforce if the activities must take place from Monday to Friday – for example s It is a commercial activity, in contact with customers. “If an activity is held by one person, it seems impossible”says the professor.

Benoit Serre, vice-president of the National Association of HRDs, also has some reservations about this model. For him, the idea is attractive on paper, but not necessarily in practice. “If the workload does not decrease, it is quite risky in terms of health. Employees risk being exhausted”, he warns. And running after time, “they give up informal moments with their colleagues, who participate in the life of a company”, he regrets. The right formula according to him? Stop thinking in hours worked per week but rather think in terms of the number of days worked, with a mode of organization that allows employees to have a flexible schedule, designed over a semester or a year.

And elsewhere ?

This mode of organization is also current abroad. In the United Kingdom, a six-month pilot program was launched in early June to test the four-day week in 70 companies with some 3,300 employees. The Belgian government agreed in June on the possibility for employees to work up to ten hours a day (instead of eight until then) to reduce five working days into four, and thus benefit from one day additional rest.

Conclusion

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