Four Day Week Being Trialled Across UK: Could B2B Relationships Be Affected?

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The talk of “four-day weeks” has been around for a while now. With the balance between work and life becoming more strained – caused in part by growing recession fears – employee wellbeing and work productivity has suffered as a result. 

Four-day weeks – if brought into the mainstream – are considered to be an answer to this, helping employees to become more emotionally stable and productivity to be rocketed as a result. 

But that’s not to say there are not concerns about the proposition. Although employee wellbeing is one of the most important factors of any company, so too is reliability and communication. 

This is especially true for B2B companies, who rely on their B2B marketing channels to aid with customer loyalty and provide consistent communication with clients. If a four-day week were to go ahead, surely the maintenance of business relationships would suffer as a result? 

The Reality Of Four-Day Weeks

In order to answer this question, it is first important to consider how likely it is that four-day weeks will actually succeed. In November 2022, a hundred UK companies signed up to a permanent four-day week for all employees (with no loss of pay). These companies all employ at least 2,600 staff, with the largest being Atom Bank and the global marketing company Awin. According to the chief executive of Awin, this was a transformative initiative which has already seen an increase in employee wellness and wellbeing. 

The campaign – run by the 4 Day Week Campaign Group – has also begun to coordinate the world’s biggest pilot scheme for seventy other companies – complete with at least 3,300 employees each – to adopt the four-day week trial. This is coordinated alongside Boston College and the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, with 88% of those companies already having said the process is working well and a further 95% stating that productivity has either stayed the same or actually improved since the campaign was joined.

The Problem For Businesses

Although this can be seen as a positive step forward for business – the evidence is already there that a four-day week with no loss of pay is a viable solution to inflation rises – it could also be seen as a negative when it comes to actual business processes. The introduction of four-day weeks is going to be slow, with more and more companies signing up over the next few years. With this in mind, communication between B2B companies could be damaged. 

For any B2B company, ongoing relationships are carried out across a number of marketing channels and loyalty schemes. This is propelled with transparency and communication, which could suffer if business operations are only being carried out across four days – as opposed to partnering businesses remaining on a five-day working week basis. 

Not to mention, a four-day week would inevitably tighten business priorities, meaning a certain part of marketing or communication could be neglected. This is inevitable with such a drastic change to the working week. For instance, if those hundred companies have at least 2,600 staff members, then they are achieving 104,000 working hours in any given week. Under a four-day week scheme, however, those hours are cut down to 83,200, meaning those companies are losing out on just under 21,000 hours of productivity. 

This will mean that business plans will have to be readjusted, with marketing and customer experiences potentially feeling the adverse effects – and if not this area of the business, then other areas which could altogether harm the customer experience.

The Way Forward

As mentioned before, employee wellbeing is crucial, not least if better wellbeing can assist in engagement – as well as better productivity in the working day. In this way, it is not necessarily a guarantee that a shorter working week could hinder relationships. Going back to Awin’s comments, the initiative is not only assisting in employee wellness, but it is also improving customer service and relations, including talent relations and retention.

This should certainly be noted. If productivity is staying the same – or even improving – then perhaps the “hours in the day” statistic becomes irrelevant. How much, for instance, of those 21,000 lost hours were already wasted due to poor employee wellness? 

For any businesses signing up to the campaign, a clear emphasis should remain on close relationships and customer loyalty – especially if the majority of those relationships are still working on a five-day week basis. Performance of employees should be keenly tracked and results must be compared with previous results on a five-day working week. Hopefully the campaign can take off and any concerns can be alleviated. For now, however, it is up to businesses to put their best foot forward and ensure their relationships keep building in strength.

Author Profile

Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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