The future world of work | THE HOUSE OF CO
Work-Life-Balance, Home-Office and a 4-Day Week: How the World of Work Is Changing
According to a German survey by persoblogger.de, almost half of the overall young professionals expect flexible working hours and control over their work schedule. 40 % of those surveyed would no longer accept a job without the option of home-office.
The typical career has had its days and with it a working life full of overtime, competition and attendance times. Instead, the question of the meaning of work life is coming more into focus. The boundaries between life and work are becoming more and more blurred, employees are gaining greater flexibility and compatibility between work and leisure increases.
Finally, the Corona crisis accelerated the digitalisation boom and with-it new work structures and models from work-life balance to home-office and workation to the 4-day week.
But what are the advantages and disadvantages of models like the 4-day week and what alternatives are there? Find out more in this article.
A Long Weekend With a 4-Day Week Copy to Clipboard
According to a Forsa survey commissioned by German TV channels RTL and NTV, 71% of the participants are in favour of a 4-day week with the same working hours in Germany. According to handelsblatt.com, such a model has been running in Belgium since February 2022.
Iceland also tested the model between 2015-2019 – but with reduced working hours, from 40 to 35 hours, and with the same payload. The result of the study in Iceland:
- improved well-being of the employees (higher satisfaction and fewer sick days)
- optimised workflows and closer cooperation
- productivity remained mostly the same or increased
Since then, around 86% of workers in Iceland now have the right to do a 4-day week. In an Austrian survey conducted by epunkt.com, 83% of company representatives said that they could also imagine this in their company.
Similar results were obtained by Microsoft in Japan, who tested a 4-day week for one month:
- Productivity increased by 40%
- 92.1% of employees supported a 4-day week
- Power consumption reduced by 23.1%
- Meeting times were reduced to less than 30 minutes
Other countries from Spain to Germany are also testing a 4-day week. But what are the pros and cons of a 4-day week for you as an employee?
- More free time and flexibility: You have one more day for yourself, of course. This means you have more free time for your hobbies, friends and family, but also for important appointments.
- More relaxation: The shortened working week reduces stress, and you can recover better on a three-day weekend.
- Increased productivity: Productivity is often maintained or increased – it can be increased more easily with reduced working hours, and at the same time employers become more attractive to applicants. It is questionable whether this would also be the case with the usual 40 hours.
- Higher Motivation: the prospect of a day off motivates to do the work in fewer days.
However, some companies do not compensate a 4-day week with the same salary or only do so in combination with a reduction of the working hours. Thus, there are some possible disadvantages.
- Lower salary: Depending on the employer and the situation, your salary can decrease with a 4-day week. A decrease of 20% is not uncommon. Maybe it only applies in connection with a reduction in working hours or you decide to reduce your working hours by yourself. In this case, the salary is reduced accordingly and there is less budget for your free time.
- Planning challenges: Depending on the employer, it may also happen that not everyone can take the day off on Friday, if, for example, the office should always be occupied to welcome clients. Then you lose the advantage of a long weekend but have more time for personal appointments on another day. In the office itself, planning problems (e.g., with shift work) and conflicts can arise from real or subjectively perceived disadvantages amongst employees.
- More pressure to perform: Having one more day off means having to accomplish more tasks in less time. In a nutshell: 10-hour days replace 8-hour days. Employees are then faced with the challenge of working faster, more efficiently, more concentrated and more results-driven. The chat next to the coffee machine is cut short. This form of working also requires a higher level of self-discipline and puts additional pressure on many people who already feel stressed at work.
Overall, many questions remain about the implementation of a 4-day working week:
- Which day should be free?
- Should there be equal pay or less?
- Will the weekly hours be reduced or not?
- How is the model viable within the legal framework?
- Does a 4-day week mean less holidays for the employees?
In addition to the open questions, many also view the 4-day working week model critically. For example, career expert Dr Bernd Slaghuis writes in an article for German career network XING: “Working time is living time, there are no longer two sides of good and bad, energy-giving and energy-sapping. Instead, in the future it must be much more about making work an individual experience and personal in such a way that it gives each of us enough energy for an efficient and healthy life.” According to Slaghuis, it’s not about creating the work-life balance, but about making both work and the life around it fulfilling.
Work-Life Balance, Workation & Co-Working for Maximum Flexibility
It is certainly easier than a radical introduction of the 4-day model to initiate smaller changes in the working world – for example, through more flexibility. In addition to more freedom, Generation Y wants more self-realisation at work. For both Generation Y and Z, the leisure factor is also at the forefront of their career choice - they want self-realisation both professionally and in their private lives.
Many companies support this development and offer flex-time and trust-based working hours as well as home-office. However, even at the time of the Corona crisis, many people felt uncomfortable when they had to work from home, perhaps without any social interactions.
A current trend that could support home-office is called workation, i.e., the possibility to work from a different (holiday) location. Innovative co-living concepts transform your living space into a cosmos – so you can flexibly switch between living and working spaces. Most of the flats are furnished and offer an all-in rent per month. So you don't have to worry about anything else.
Go surfing and do yoga on the beach after work or rush through peak hours to the gym? The choice is not difficult. Moreover, it is attractive, especially for young professionals, not to commit to a location at an early stage. For companies in unattractive peripheral areas or villages, this also creates more opportunities to find skilled workers.
THE HOUSE OF CO in Berlin, for example, offers such a fluid concept for work-life balance: innovative companies offer their employees and young professionals co-living flats as well as business premises. This also eliminates the stressful commute and improves the Co² footprint. At the same time, the co-living concept offers social interaction and more flexibility when changing locations.
Part of our team lived and worked together temporarily at THE HOUSE OF CO. We tested the concept, and our opinion is quite clear – Yes! It works!
- You grow together as a team in a completely different way.
- The work is done – we have been at home and in the office at the same time, we could divide the tasks, be effective and still had fun.
- In the end, we can say that it was more cost-efficient for the company – we rented a co-living flat and not individual flats for everyone, plus an office space.
The most important thing, however, is to establish a corporate culture characterised by appreciation and self-fulfilment, in which every employee can develop. Then we will reach the state that career expert Slaghuis is talking about, to make life fulfilling – both at work and in private life. Whether this happens in a 4 or 5-day week is then secondary.
Sources cited that are only available in German: