- As the adage goes, the man is a lazy animal, the topic of having lesser working days in a week might sound like real music to a majority of the working class but will rile the employers no end. However, few countries around the globe would not mind experimenting with lesser days of working in a week though. But how effective, productive, and welcoming the arrangement will be is best left to the imagination of the people closely associated with these measures being contemplated. We all know how the pandemic-induced restrictions and lockdowns forced employees representing several critical sectors were asked to work from home using the digital platforms.
- However, this measure proved to be a stop-gap arrangement at best. But worked, nonetheless. Since the novelty factor can remain in reckoning/force for only a limited duration, the online or work from home arrangement could serve that much as the uniqueness started weaning away after a while. Now, things are almost returning to normalcy as the destructive nature of the Covid loses steam courtesy of widespread vaccination. Nevertheless, there are several challenges confronting the organizations eager to stop the attrition rate of employees. One palpable outcome, as normalcy at the workplace returns, is disaffection at having to go to the office.
- Numerous organizations, particularly in the technology industry, are facing employee churn. As such, employers are experimenting, especially in the West, with concepts like a 4-day working week. Of course, it’s early days and research shows mixed responses-higher productivity somewhere, higher stress elsewhere. The moot point to ponder over here is which kind of employees will usually get almost half the week off. Noted economic historians posit that only about 2-3% of people drive economic growth and progress. The ones with the fundamental ideas and applications to change the way an entire society does things.
PC: Yogesh Kumar
- Add some more skilled people to that list and it’s still a sliver of the workforce that for practical purposes is indispensable. Mind you, it’s a supplier’s market here and a 4-day week for this cohort can become the norm. The rest are caught in the maelstrom of the onset of the fourth industrial revolution when digital models fundamentally change almost every activity. As you know, the first three industrial revolutions taught us the impact of these transformations on work is a combination of three incongruent forces viz. destruction of traditional jobs, productivity increases, and eventually the creation of new kinds of work.
- History shows how these forces play out over time and a 4-day week in this context can have a very different implication. Now, perceptions matter too. For some workers, it may mean less work and also less pay. For some employers, it may mean Hobson’s choice between hiring more to allow 3-day weekends or losing top talent by sticking to a 5-day working week. You see, there are too many intangible factors at work here like markets, workers, and the state. Especially, in a country like India where 90% of the workforce is unorganized, a 4-day week is a definite no-no.