Little by little, the four-day work week is taking root in the European professional world. An increasing number of managers is convinced of the benefits of this new way of organising work. It is an undeniable attraction that no European country is immune from.

Hoe zit het met de vierdaagse werkweek in Europa?

Only a few, short years ago, it was being implemented by a mere handful of companies; more recently, the four-day work week now appears to have evolved into an ideal solution that is proving equally appealing to managers and workers alike.

Workers, who work four days instead of five, meet an important need for flexibility. Managers, who have become aware of new work challenges, see this concept as a way to make their companies more attractive.

Some are opting for a reduction in the number of working hours per week, while at the same time maintaining the same level of remuneration. Others prefer to compress the same number of working hours, say 35 or 40, within four days.  

Gezondheid, productiviteit, inzet en ecologische impact

Health, productivity, engagement or environmental impact

Whatever the reason, research has shown that this works. According to Texas A&M University, employees who work on computers all day are less productive at the end of the day and at the end of the week. In this case, the four-day work week meets a real need.

Workers' health, increased productivity, greater commitment, environmental impact - the four-day week could even solve Europe's labour shortage, according to Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights.  

Groeiende initiatieven in heel Europa

Increasing initiatives through Europe

Today, there are more and more examples of companies that have introduced the four-day week, even though each introduction takes time and is accompanied by its own set of inconveniences, discomforts and questions. This applies everywhere in Europe.

  • In Belgium, the Employment Pact adopted on 20 November 2022 gives workers a chance to choose a full-time four-day-a-week contract. Nevertheless, the initiative is still in its infancy; seven months after the Pact took effect, only 3% of the SMEs in Wallonia had implemented it. (Source: SD Worx)
  • In the United Kingdom, the results are more positive. At the end of the six-month trial period in December 2022, 92% of the 61 UK companies that took part in the 4 Day Week Global trial decided to continue the experiment. The study showed that 39% of the 2,900 participating workers experienced less stress.
  • In France nearly 10,000 workers are using this new type of working schedule, according to the Ministry of Employment
Is de vierdaagse werkweer binnenkort de norm?

The new normal?

While the new way of working may only affect a small percentage of the workforce today, there is no doubt that the four-day week will become the norm in the professional world within a few years.

The international Workforce View study by ADP released this summer underscores the fact that 22% of French workers expect this way of working to become the standard in their sector within 5 years. 28% of the world’s population agrees.

Unlike the introduction of remote working or other forms of organisation, the four-day week can be implemented by all types of companies, regardless of their sector. For Francis Boyer*, a specialist in management innovation and author of La semaine de 4 jours, sans perte de salaire, ça marche! (published in France by Eyrolles), it could “potentially correspond to 80% of organisations, compared with 20% for teleworking”.

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Written by: Valentine Mathieu
Digital Marketeer