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Four day week and flexible working – could it benefit our economy? - Fingertips Typing


Four day week and flexible working – could it benefit our economy?

Posted By Cathy Bennett

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Four day week – There’s been a lot of talk lately about a four day working week. What’s not to like? More time off without a drop in pay, lovely jubbly. But hang on a second, what do employers think about this? What about the cost to their business and productivity?

Alfie Stirling of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) is of the opinion that reducing working hours can actually boost productivity. How, you ask. Well here are some of the points he made during an interview on Talk Radio recently.

He suggests that overall output will not fall, because more gets done in the time. In fact, productivity goes up because of several factors.   Employees are better rested, have higher morale and sense of well-being. In addition, companies can put into place systems to be more productive such as better equipment or better management practices.

Of course, this can’t happen overnight. Alfie Stirling suggests a gradual process, perhaps of bringing in more statutory leave time over a period of perhaps ten years. This would effectively reduce working time with no loss of pay, but also allow employees the flexibility of taking alternatives such as cash, rollover leave etc. so no-one would actually be forced to work a four day week.

Click here to listen to the interview:

When we asked Alfie for further clarification, this is what he said:

“Essentially, the argument is that firms are more willing to invest in productivity raising equipment and systems if they are confident there will be future demand for their products/services. If not, they are more likely to invest in a lower productivity, insecure workforce (zero hours contracts, outsourcing etc) that can be easily cut back if future demand fails to materialise. If you increase time off while protecting pay (for example by increasing statutory leave), then this will boost demand because people will have more time off to spend their disposable income. In turn, this will help give confidence to firms to invest in raising productivity.”

We find this very interesting but we’re not totally convinced. What do you think? Please comment below with your thoughts.

Flexible working is also an option. Many employers already believe that promoting flexible working makes good business sense and has many advantages. Allowing employees to work from home, or to fit their working hours around their home lives and other commitments, leads to higher job satisfaction and morale. This in turn benefits employers with higher levels of productivity and better staff retention. Fingertips, by using freelancers, already operates a flexible working practice, giving transcribers the opportunity to work hours to suit them. As one of these freelancers, I enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours, as long as I meet my deadlines.

And how lovely it is not to have to scrape ice off my car at 7am on a cold winter morning before adding to the air pollution with an hour’s commute through rush hour traffic!

What do you think?

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