Why an ergonomic chair has even more relevance in a 4-day work week

A 4-day work week can result in people sitting continuously for long hours, making an ergonomic chair a "no brainer".

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The 5-day work week is changing due to work culture trends. Alternative schedules like the 4-day week aim for better work-life balance, wellbeing, and productivity. Ergonomic chairs are crucial for this setup, promoting employee comfort, health, and job satisfaction.

What is a 4-Day Work Week?

A 4-day work week is a flexible work arrangement that allows employees to work for four days instead of five, usually by extending the daily working hours. For example, instead of working for eight hours a day for five days, employees may work for 10 hours a day for four days. The extra day off can be any day of the week, depending on the preference and agreement between the employer and the employee. 

A 4-day work week is grounded in pursuit of a healthier work-life balance.

4-day work week
Work-Life balance

A brief history...

The five-day work week that we are familiar with is a cultural norm and is the result of union advocacy in the early 1900's to reduce the six-day work week.

In the early part on the 20th century, the weekly average hours worked in the developed world gradually reduced from 60 to about 40 hours. Already in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keys expected that because of technological advancements and productivity improvements, further reductions in the hours worked per week would occur within the foreseeable future.

In 1956, the then vice president of the US, Richard Nixon, promised that Americans would have a 4-day work week in the not-too-distant future.

In 1956 Richard Nixon said that a 4-day working week was in the not too distant future
Richard Nixon

Why Adopt a 4-Day Work Week?

The concept of a 4-day work week may initially sound radical, but its roots are grounded in a thoughtful consideration of the modern workforce’s needs, the evolving nature of work, and the pursuit of a healthier work-life balance. 

Several compelling rationales drive the adoption of a 4-day work week.

The research conducted in the UK on a 4-day work week revealed that 39% of employees experienced lower stress levels and 71% noticed less burnout while working shorter weeks. Anxiety, fatigue, and sleep issues all decreased while physical and mental health significantly improved.

    • Enhanced Productivity:

      It’s a common misconception that longer hours equate to greater productivity. In reality, a significant portion of the traditional 5-day work week is often spent on tasks with minimal value. The compressed schedule of a 4-day work week encourages employees to prioritise tasks, eliminate time-wasting activities, and focus on meaningful, high-impact work.

    • Reduced Burnout:

      Prolonged working without adequate rest can lead to burnout at work, resulting in decreased productivity and diminished wellbeing. A 4-day work week provides employees with an extra day to recharge, relax, and pursue personal interests. This recuperation time can significantly reduce burnout and increase overall job satisfaction.

Ryan Breslow, the CEO at Bolt explains why they are switching to a 4-day week“Work is changing and the biggest obstacle we have to face is burnout. Furthermore, we’re going to become vastly more efficient from Monday to Thursday. We’ll trim those excess meetings; we won’t send unnecessary communications. Because we’ll have less time, we’ll get more concrete work done.”  

    • Flexibility and Autonomy:

      Embracing a 4-day work week empowers employees with greater flexibility and autonomy over their schedules. This autonomy can lead to improved work-life balance, allowing individuals to better manage family responsibilities, personal commitments, and self-care.

    • Health and Wellbeing:

      Long commutes and extended work hours can take a toll on physical and mental health. A shorter work week reduces the strain of commuting and provides more time for exercise, relaxation, and spending quality time with loved ones – all of which contribute to improved wellbeing.

    • Talent Attraction and Retention:

      In a competitive job market, offering a 4-day work week can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top and scarce talent. Winning and retaining skilled workers are the main reasons for companies to offer a four-day work week. The competition for employees is getting tougher every year: In the first quarter of this year, according to the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research, 1.75 million positions were unfilled in Germany, an increase of almost 30 percent compared to the first quarter of the pre-COVID year 2019. The lost economic output due to the skills shortage in Germany is estimated at $84 billion annually, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group from last year.

    • Environmental Impact:

      A reduced work week means fewer commutes, resulting in decreased carbon emissions and a positive environmental impact. This aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

    • Increased Focus and Creativity:

      A condensed work week encourages employees to maximise their time and energy, leading to increased focus and enhanced creativity. With more time for rest and personal pursuits, employees return to work refreshed and better equipped to tackle challenges.

    • Adaptation to Technological Advances:

      The digital age has transformed the way work is conducted. Advances in technology enable remote work and increased efficiency, making it possible to accomplish the same amount of work in fewer hours. The Future of Work.

 

There are two types of 4-day work week

a) The fixed work schedule

This is where the work week is simply reduced by one day. For example, instead of having a 40-hour work week (8 hours/day), the weekly working hours are reduced to 32 hours per week. This is also known as the 100-80-100 model: 100% pay for 80% of hours in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100% productivity. 

This model has been tested on a large scale since 2015 in many countries and in many different business environments. In South Africa, IQbusiness have recently announced that they have started a pilot project using the 100-80-100 model.

b) The compressed work schedule

With the compressed schedule, the normal working hours per week are divided over 4 days instead of 5 days. For example, if the weekly normal hours are 40 hours/week, then instead of working 8 hours per day for 5 days, a compressed work schedule would entail working 10 hours per day for 4 days. This is also known as a 4/10 work week.

What are the Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Work Week?

A 4-day work week is not without its challenges. It requires careful planning, communication, and adaptation from both employers and employees. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day work week:

  • Reduced Work Hours vs. Increased Workload:

    • Pro: One of the primary attractions of a 4-day work week is the promise of reduced work hours. Employees are given an extra day off, allowing for more time to relax, pursue hobbies, and spend time with loved ones.
    • Con: However, some organisations may inadvertently increase the workload to fit into the condensed schedule. This can lead to increased stress as employees struggle to complete the same amount of work in fewer days, potentially negating the benefits of reduced hours.  In the South African context, especially for those further down the socioeconomic scale, an extra day off in the week may lead to more double jobbing as they seek to raise their incomes – this could be good news in terms of living wages, but bad news in terms of wellbeing, stress and workload. How to deal with stress at work.
  • Longer Work Days vs. Shorter Work Week:

  • Improved Work-Life Balance vs. Scheduling Difficulties:

    • Pro: A 4-day work week can improve work-life balance by giving employees more time to attend to their personal needs and interests. Employees can also benefit from having a longer weekend which can boost their morale and motivation.
    • Con: A 4-day work week can also create scheduling difficulties for some workers who may have to coordinate with clients or colleagues who follow a different work schedule. This can cause communication problems or delays. Moreover, some workers may find it hard to adjust to the irregular rhythm of a 4-day work week, which can disrupt their routine and habits.

Why Do You Need an Ergonomic Chair in a 4-Day Work Week?

In our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, prolonged sitting has emerged as a significant concern, linked to a range of health issues from musculoskeletal discomfort to chronic diseases. The solution?

An ergonomic chair – a must-have for anyone spending considerable hours sitting at a desk.

An ergonomic chair offers more than just comfort; it actively supports the body’s alignment, alleviating strain on the spine, muscles, and joints. What happens when you sit? With adjustable features like lumbar support, seat depth, and recline angles, these chairs are tailored to your unique body dimensions, promoting a neutral posture that’s vital for long hours of sitting. How to Protect Your Health in the Age of the Office Chair

But it doesn’t stop there. Ergonomic chairs that promote dynamic sitting enhance blood circulation by reducing pressure points, notably in the thighs. They encourage subtle movements and engage core muscles, effectively counteracting the negative effects of being sedentary. Features that Affect the Price of Ergonomic Office Chairs

In a world where remote work and screen time dominate, investing in an ergonomic chair isn’t just about immediate comfort – it’s a proactive step towards safeguarding your long-term health, wellbeing and productivity. 

how much time do we spend sitting and why a 4-day working week is a good idea

Whether you’re a professional or a student, prioritising an ergonomic chair could be the game-changer your body will thank you for in the years to come! How Much Should You Budget for an Ergonomic Office Chair?

A good ergonomic chair will give you:

  • Increased Comfort:

    Working for 10 hours or more in a day can be exhausting and uncomfortable, especially if the chair is not suitable for the body type and size of the worker. An ergonomic chair can help workers feel more comfortable by providing adequate support and cushioning for their hips, legs, back, neck, and other body parts. It can also help workers avoid or reduce pain and discomfort that can result from sitting for long periods of time.

  • Enhanced Productivity:

    Comfort and productivity are closely related. When workers are comfortable, they can focus better on their tasks and perform more efficiently and effectively. An ergonomic chair can help workers achieve higher productivity levels by reducing distractions and interruptions caused by discomfort or pain. It can also help workers maintain their energy and motivation throughout the day by preventing fatigue and exhaustion.

In a 2022 Qualtrics survey, 82% of employees said that a 4-day work week would make them more productive. 88% said it would improve their work-life balance and 79% said it would improve their mental health. The majority of UK businesses that switched to a 4-day week said that it helps them to attract and retain a wider diversity of employees. These included employees with children or caring responsibilities, older employees and also younger employees.

  • Improved Health:

    One of the main risks of working for long hours is the potential damage to the health and wellbeing of workers. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause various health problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and mental health issues. An ergonomic chair can help workers prevent or mitigate these health problems by promoting the natural curve of the spine, improving blood circulation, relieving pressure on the hips and joints, and enhancing mood and morale. The 5 consequences of sitting on the wrong chair.

One of the key factors that can affect the success of a 4-day work week is the quality of the work environment, especially the furniture and equipment that workers use.

The ergonomic chair is arguably the most important piece of furniture that can make a difference in the health, comfort, and performance of workers.

An ergonomic chair is a chair that has been designed to best support the body in terms of proper posture, health, and comfort. It has certain features that allow it to adjust to the individual needs and preferences of each worker, such as the appropriate height, seat depth, lumbar support, backrest, armrest, headrest, wheels, and material.  

Having an ergonomic office chair is even more important with a 4-day work week

karo ergonomic office chairs
Ergonomic office chairs

With a compressed 4-day work week schedule, people work 10 hours a day over 4 days - the 4/10 work week.

This means that they will spend LONGER HOURS sitting down which can be detrimental to their long-term health and wellbeing.

A good ergonomic office chair becomes a "must-have" item.

Conclusion

The 4-day work week is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every worker or employer. It has its pros and cons that need to be carefully considered before making a decision. However, one thing is certain:

An ergonomic chair is essential for any worker who wants to make the most out of their work time while protecting their health and comfort.

Contact us if you are interested in finding out more about ergonomic chairs or other ergonomic furniture. We offer a wide range of high-quality products that can suit your needs and preferences. We also provide free consultations and delivery services for your convenience.

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