[Opinion] 4-Day Workweek Is A Disaster, Productivity-Killer; 5-Day Workweek Is Optimal Solution
This is a Guest Post by Ms.Yogita Tulsiani, Director and Co-founder, iXceed Solutions.
In the wake of the last year’s pandemic crisis, organizations across sectors had to reinvent their working models. Shifting from physical to remote working models created ripples in almost every business sector.
The traditional method of working is slowly turning obsolete and the government is rethinking its labour policy. The centre has recently announced its plans to introduce new labour codes to provide flexibility to companies and employees to work four days a week instead of complete six or five days.
On the other hand, the old school corporates in India view flexibility with suspicion. This impacts the daily volume of work and hours for employees while affecting their work-life balance.
The traditional working pattern involves a complete 8-hour shift, starting the day from 9 am to ending it between 5 – 7 pm. Numerous studies suggest – the countries with the highest number of working hours have the lowest employee productivity while those with shortest working days are the most productive.
It has created the number of working days in a week or hours in a day a much-debated topic across organizations. This started in Germany that already has the lowest working hours in a week at 34.2 hours. Several companies across the globe have experimented with it. However, many believe that 5-day work culture is more effective and contributes to better productivity at the workplace.
The major highlight of the new code
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has recently announced its plans to introduce new labour codes including ‘four-day work week’ without compressing 48 working hours per week. For instance, if an employee works 8 hours a day, there will be complete 6 working days in a week. However, if a company adopts 12 hours work shift, then the employees will have four working days and three holidays in a week. In simple terms, the new labour codes give the companies the authority to stretch their working hours for employees from 9 hours to 12 hours a day.
Additionally, there will be a new rule for calculation of overtime. It states – the employee working 15-30 minutes more than the stipulated time should be counted as full 30 minutes and compensated accordingly.
Impact on employee productivity
Not all employees need extra hours to be productive. Many organizations equip their employees with skills to manage time and prioritize their tasks for tight deadlines and better productivity. The number of working hours plays a crucial role in this scenario. As per the new labour code, the reduction in working days will ultimately reflect in the number of increased working hours. Consequently, the increased timeline of workwill act as more burden for the employees. It will increase the employees’ stress level per day decreasing the work productivity.
Also logistically, the 4 days work culture can only be implemented according to the functioning and working of different sectors. Sectors like the manufacturing, service sector, etc. might not be able to meet the consumers’ expectations and demand. In that case, the 5-day workweek has a better impact on the output and results.
Some workplaces have 4 working days and some have 5, this might create chaos in functioning. For instance, if an organization has 5 workdays and on contrary, the organization associated with it has 4 workdays, there will be difficulty to sync up the schedules. In other words, 4 working days means 57 percent of the week is working while 43 percent of the week is ‘off’. It might be difficult for some people to switch modes (work to off) so quickly. Many other work/schedules will have to be altered to keep up with this, some of which might not even be possible.
Presently, the biggest concern for forward-moving organizations is not deciding the number of working days per week. Given the market uncertainties, the core focus of corporates is to increase the productivity level. Employees expected to work 12-15 hours a day to implement 4-day work culture will impact employee engagement, work-life balance, and overall performance at work. Despite the perks of the new labour code, organizations are skeptical of implementing the 4-day work culture swiftly.