The four-day workweek — Clamour grows amid the COVID-19 pandemic but it may not be a viable option for Indian companies
- In India, employees work way beyond 48 hours a week, crossing the International Labour Organization’s working norms.
- That has spurred the debate of a four-day
workweekand its possibilities in India.
- LinkedIn is currently running a week-long opinion poll where over 3,500 people have already voiced their views on the debate.
AdvertisementAt the start of a new year, the first thing most employed professionals do is quickly scramble through the calendar to mark the number of long weekends in the year. Those few days of bliss when it’s just a four-day week means people make their travel plans, and it's their time to unwind. Now, imagine if that was every week of the year.
Well, at least that’s the thought that the debatable concept of ‘four-day’ week brings with it.
The conversation starter
The great German debate took off as the country’s largest trade union – IG Metall, called for a four-day week. And this, even when Germany already has the lowest working hours in a week at 34.2 hours.
Then came Microsoft's experiment in 2019 in its Japan office, where productivity jumped by 40%, as a four-day week made for the perfect work-life balance. And it wasn’t just great for the employees; the number of pages printed was down, electricity consumption was a lot less as well. And that led to not only Microsoft, but many companies around the world wondering whether implementing a system of four-day workweek could work.
Four-day workweek — A pipe dream in India?
In India, employees work way beyond 48 hours a week – crossing the International Labour Organization’s norms of working. According to the labour standards. “the general standard is 48 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day.” says the ILO website.
A survey conducted this year showed that Indian employees feel a four-day workweek concept is at least five years away. Especially given that employees are made to work beyond five days in a week in today’s corporate set-up.
And to improve the scenario – a four-day work week may not necessarily be the answer.
“Having a 4 day weekend cycle is not a great idea. It will create an imbalance in the work cycle and will also largely impact the productivity of the individual and the organization. In fact, I think employees may get more stressed due to the increased work burden as the number of working days will reduce. They may also feel lethargic and anxious if the weekend is prolonged. I feel the 2 day weekend cycle is good enough to manage the personal errands, unwind and de-stress and if an employee does want an extra day occasionally they can always club a leave with the weekend,” said Sumit Kumar, Vice President, NETAP, TeamLease.
LinkedIn is currently running a week-long opinion poll where over 3,500 people have already voiced their views on the debate.
AdvertisementSome LinkedIn users pointed out the complex structure of Indian working hours, which unapologetically spills into the weekend. Many others also commented that it's the long work hours that are a problem, which has only been made worse during the work from home of the pandemic. So, in an ideal scenario, companies should respect the working hours in a day.
Kumar of TeamLease also believes that within work from home, there can be more solutions. “Now as many organizations may look to have a permanent WFH system or even a hybrid system (alternate day WFH etc.). In this scenario work-life balance will further improve so there shouldn’t be much need for a prolonged weekend,” he said.
Even as the debate rages on the pros and cons of a four-day workweek in India, it is pertinent to note this system will only apply to the professional sector and not India’s majority of the working population (over 90%) that constitute the unorganized workforce.
From PepsiCo to PwC – companies announce a four-day weekend to help beat WFH stress
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