Working after the pandemic is different. The new normal has left corporate chieftains engaged in a constant battle over whether or not staff should return to the office. Many are more than happy to keep working remotely.

At the same time, Big Tech’s talent pool is running dry in the aftermath of the Great Resignation and the wave of quiet quitting. If recruiters want to get a leg up on their competitors, they better start evolving with the times or risk falling behind.

Adjusting to new realities could also see them warm up to an idea that has so far been met rather tepidly: the introduction of a four-day work week.

Big business bosses have often rejected the notion in the past, but analysts believe they better get used to it.

“Calls for a four-day work week have emerged in public discourse in the last five years,” George Monaghan, thematic analyst at GlobalData, says in a new podcast from the research firm.

“Exponents argue that the gradual reduction of working hours always has been and still is a hallmark of societal progression. The free time made available as technology expedites work should be directed not towards further work, but towards relationships, leisure and health.” 

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The four-day work week is coming

Despite companies having opposed the idea of a four-day work week for years, Monaghan believes they will end up leading the charge.

“By 2030, we’re looking at four-day work weeks being, not ubiquitous but widespread,” he says. “And it’s worth emphasising that this shift will not be led by governments, but by companies. As with other quality-of-life practices, corporate adoption of the four-day work week will be driven by competition for talent.”

Businesses have reason to consider introducing a four-day work week seriously. In the aftermath of Covid-19, employees have started to resign in droves either because they want to find employment doing something that is more fulfilling or because they want a better work-life balance.

The tech industry has always been perpetually short on talent and in a candidate-led market, they’d be wise to listen to what workers want.

At the same time, businesses aren’t going to introduce a four-day work week without voicing any demands of their own.

“Production in four days must be just as high as it was in five,” Monaghan says. “Time spent idle or distracted must be cut, and all key responsibilities must still be fulfilled. Now that may seem far-fetched, but the data available so far suggests that such productivity retention is possible.”

He points at Microsoft as an example. The Redmond-headquartered tech titan trialled a four-day work week in its Japanese offices. The result: productivity jumped by 40%.

2Further trials are underway” Monaghan says. “In June 2022, over 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies began the world’s biggest four-day week trial. Government-led trials will also begin in Spain and Scotland by the end of 2022.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications