The idea has been kicking around for quite a while; recently, some local businesses have decided to implement four-day work weeks. We investigate what it means as well as how it would (or wouldn’t) work in the future. The local office of a worldwide non-profit organization known as 4 Day Week South Africa announced in September 2022 that the country’s first-ever four-day workweek will begin as a test program in South Africa in February 2023. 

Although the idea of a work week consisting of only four days is not unique, its implementation in our nation is relatively recent. The notion of a “culture of free time,” which was initially popularized in “Western industrialized nations” in the 1960s and 1970s, is said to be where the notion got its start, based on a study that was conducted in Australia. But the concept of a shorter work week first gained traction as a reaction to the Covid-19 flu epidemic, which caused disruptions in the working place and compelled businesses to be creative with their employment conditions. This, in turn, significantly contributed to the notion of a four-day workweek. 

According to Nicola Paine, a member of the 2 directors at 4 Day Week SA, the four-day week is a worldwide effort to “boost efficiency and wellbeing in the place of work; recruit and retain talent; enhance the daily lives of people, family members, and communities and have a beneficial impact on the environment.” 

According to Paine, the specific type of work week that is to be incorporated in the test program in South Africa is premised on a prototype known as the “100-80-100 model,” which states that employees will receive “100% of the income, 80% of the time, in return for a dedication to providing 100% of the efficiency.” 

The fact that twenty local businesses have already expressed interest in participating raises questions about the viability of the idea in this region, particularly in light of the current situation in our economic system and the potential impact it could have on employment regulations. 

Enhancements in Every Facet of the Operation

Thus according to Talita Laubscher, an associate at Bowmans Employment and Benefits Practice in Johannesburg, the implementation of a four-day work week would not significantly alter the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), except the transformation in the employment terms for each business, that is currently done with the employee’s permission. 

A new study that was carried out by 4 Day Week discovered that following a test period of six months in Australia, Ireland, and the United States, they discovered that businesses that applied the notion without making any pay reductions had a rise in productivity. In addition to this, employees confirmed feeling “less anxious and burned out” and mentioned higher levels of overall satisfaction with life. However, the study noted that neither of the businesses has yet brought back to a five-day working week. Furthermore, the results of the research underscored the decreased number of hours spent traveling, which has beneficial influences not only on the health of staff members but also on their resources and the environment. 

Paine goes on to say that studies have demonstrated that businesses are capable of maintaining and even strengthening their productivity levels with only a four-day workweek. Professor Mark Smith of the school of business at Stellenbosch University, who is additionally engaged in the test program for 4 Day Week South Africa, thinks that the notion not only helps to enhance businesses but also pushes the way that we think about work and working culture. “Who is going to say that a two-day weekend is an ideal example or that having to work 8 hours, 5 days each week is the best approach to work?” he asks. 

Smith clarifies that the four-day workweek ultimately integrates someone’s life outside of work by giving it room and recognizing that they’re more than just “workers” (and don’t have to continue living their private lives within the business). 

According to Smith, this means that the idea might be beneficial to the country as a whole, not only to individual people. “In all honesty, I believe that the fact that South Africa is the initial evolving economy to participate in the four-day week project ought to be a source of happiness for the country. This demonstrates the level of innovation and growth potential that exists within the South African economy. 

A Hypothesis Will Be Investigated

Smith is aware of the one-of-a-kind situations that South Africa faces as a nation and how those situations may have varying effects on various South Africans. 

“For all those at the bottom of the social economic spectrum, an additional off day in the week could give rise to much more double jobbing as they strive to increase their salaries. While this might be great news in regards to living wage levels, it could be terrible news in terms of well-being, anxiety, and volume of work.” 

Furthermore, Smith clarifies that the society of having a passive income may grow if individuals have more time on their hands, saying that “maybe some of them will take off into larger operations that employ more individuals and boost the economy.” On the other hand, spending more time on a side business could prevent someone else from pursuing entrepreneurship full-time. 

IQbusiness, a business management consulting company centered in Cape Town which will be taking part in the test program for 4 Day Week South Africa the following year, believes that the victory of the notion in the local market will be contingent on the employment relation, as well as the reconstruction of an organizational partnership that is founded on trust and transparency. “We have to be able to assist one another, from the newest trainee staff members up to the company’s most high-ranking executive, in how they handle and produce on their respective roles and responsibilities. ” “Corporate South Africa must concentrate on restoring these principles of integrity and trust and assisting the individuals who work for the company to achieve their highest potential while also being empowered to continue living a more healthy and balanced lifestyle,”