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Can you do a 4-day week?

Forward-thinking businesses and leaders in South Africa and the rest of the continent now have an opportunity to sign up for a 4 Day Week pilot planned for June 2023 in South Africa.

Improved productivity while spending less time at the office? It doesn’t sound right, but that has been the result in almost all of the companies around the globe who have participated in the 4 Day Week pilot programmes.

This will be the second pilot programme in South Africa, the pioneer pilot – in which 29 businesses in South Africa and Botswana are currently participating – having kicked off in February 2023.

Karen Lowe, Director of 4 Day Week SA, says the pilots constitute a six-month trial. Participating organisations will benefit from workshop training and mentoring, delivered by 4 Day Week Global and organisations which have already successfully implemented a 4 Day Week. Networking opportunities with other pilot participants provide opportunities to share learnings and experiences.

She says researchers will work with participants to establish relevant productivity and worker wellbeing metrics and to define what individual success looks like. These metrics will be monitored throughout the trial.

The four-day week is being adopted all over the world in a bid to improve productivity and wellness in the workplace. In a joint initiative between 4 Day Week Global and the 4 Day Week SA Coalition, businesses in South Africa and the rest of Africa are invited to join the second pilot.

The 4 Day Week is based on the 100-80-100™ model, developed by the co-founders of 4 Day Week Global, Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart, in the landmark Perpetual Guardian trial in New Zealand in 2018. The model prescribes 100% of the pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to delivering 100% of the output. It is being recognised as a way of supporting and empowering workers, enhancing organisational productivity and having a positive impact on societies and the environment.

Research shows that companies who gave their staff an extra day off per week with no reduction in pay, experienced increased revenue alongside reduced absenteeism and resignations. Workers felt less stressed and burnt out, and reported higher rates of life satisfaction. Findings also show significant declines in the duration and frequency of commuting, plus other positive environmental outcomes.

Professor Mark Smith of Stellenbosch Business School, who is also involved in 4 Day Week SA’s pilot programme, believes the concept can not only help improve company performance, but also challenge the way we think about work and work culture. “Who is to say that a two-day weekend is the ideal model or that 5 x 8 hours (working eight hours, five days a week) is the best way to work?” he says. 

Lowe adds: “African businesses have an opportunity to prove that they can be more productive whilst enjoying greater personal wellness. “Smaller companies and those in the professional services sector, are generally the early trialists of a four-day week, because it’s easier for them to make big changes.  But we are here to help all sizes of companies, across different industry sectors, to take a carefully imagined approach to adopting this new way of working. 

”We are actively recruiting for the second pilot, which provides further opportunity for organisations wanting to be part of this groundbreaking workplace experiment,” says Lowe.

The deadline for sign up for the second pilot is 15 May 2023. Those interested in being part of this experiment, can do so by logging on to: www.4dayweek.co.za or can mail karen@4dayweek.co.za.


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