The 4-day work week: Thinking different on working well in 2023

  • 2023 – all powered up and ready to rumble… No one likes to be left in the dark.

If you’re not working smart (yet), it’s time to shed some light on how to start.

That’s right: we’re talking about the 4-day work week. (Or, where did your mind go?)

At RAiN Chartered Accountants, we’re seeing the value of incorporating cutting-edge thought leadership concepts to create a thriving work environment for all. This article elaborates on how the 4-day work week empowers our workforce to flip the switch on conventional contexts for some pretty impressive (and sustainable) results in the workplace.

Power to the people – the why behind it all

We all have heard about the benefits of working smart, not hard.

But what if we didn’t have to choose between the two?

Contextually speaking, the audit profession predominantly works on billable hours. On top of that, we know how important it is to get things done accurately and efficiently – but when facing an overcrowded inbox, piles and piles of reports, or one more call after another, we can sometimes feel like we’re just spinning our wheels.

 And that’s exactly what drove RAiN to implement the 4-day work week in February 2022.

Yet, according to Leanri Cunniff, Human Capital Practitioner at RAiN, it has not all been smooth sailing.

Working in the audit and business advisory industry, a balance of give-and-take had to be established to continue providing services to clients whilst simultaneously looking after employees during the transition. Keeping up with post-pandemic trends in the work environment also weighed in on the decision, where flexibility has become a valuable commodity that, if managed effectively, attracts the talent you want in your workplace.

“Nonetheless, the 4-day work week ultimately enabled RAiN to execute our mission of focusing on people and technology. When empowered, in this sense, people are allowed the space to optimise their own work processes. This, in turn, invites opportunities in technology to aid us in our outputs, whilst increasing our bottom line,” says Leanri.

The effect

Overall, RAiN’s 4-day workweek initiative has generated a positive effect on its workforce. A recent survey conducted amongst the staff shows some encouraging results to build on for this year: improved productivity, higher employee engagement and an increased work-life balance.

  •  The majority of the respondents use their off day to run personal errands or spend time on their hobbies or focus on their studies. About 20% use their off day to take a breather from the office in order to focus on strategic planning for the week or month ahead. Employees reported that the day off gives them the ability to be more efficient and content at work, to take a breather and reflect on the week that is past and plan for the week ahead.

This respondent’s feedback sums up the general aim of the 4-day work week at RAiN:


Investing in an alternative power supply

o, is this 4-day work week just a trendy buzzword for another bandwagon, or does it, if implemented effectively, come with a sizeable ROI?

Consider this:

 This sentiment has been echoed in RAiN’s survey, where Fridays were classified as unproductive, as people are exhausted by the end of the week. The 40-hour week was invented by man in the 1920’s… Business owners have the opportunity to change this.  Why live in the ‘dark ages’ when you can light and lead the way with new and improved innovative strategies?

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report, only 24% of South African workers are engaged at work and only 29% are thriving in their overall wellbeing. We have one of the lowest mental health scores in the world. It is also common knowledge that unengaged employees are less productive, so it really makes good business sense for companies to invest and experiment with ways to increase their employees’ wellbeing.

Early international pilot studies and real-world experiments have yielded some interesting results on employee wellbeing, productivity and the ripple-effect on the bottom line of a business:

  • In 2016, the city of Reykjavik, Iceland conducted an experiment in which a group of city employees were given the option to work a four-day work week while being paid for five days. The results of the experiment were positive, with participants reporting a better work-life balance, improved concentration and focus while at work, and improved overall well-being. Additionally, the city reported no decrease in productivity as a result of the shorter work week.
  • A 2019 study by the University of Auckland found that a 4-day work week increased productivity by 20%.
  • A 2020 experiment by a New Zealand company called Perpetual Guardian found that a 4-day work week improved work-life balance, reduced stress, and increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.
  • 4-Day Week Global reported that, during their pilots starting in February 2022, relevant metrics showed high levels of success. Revenue rose approximately 8% over the trial and was up 37.55% in comparison to the same period in 2021. Hiring rose (and keep in mind these pilots were done during the era of The Great Resignation), absenteeism was reduced, and resignations declined slightly.

The stats speak for themselves.

Although a four-day work week might not be considered a feasible solution in every industry, research makes a compelling business case for owners and CEO’s to at least explore and experiment with the concept.

For a brighter, sustainable work-future for all.