The Carbon Column – Will a four-day work week influence our sustainability approach?

In this article I discuss the value and new challenges of a four-day working week

Big Zero Report 2023

The recent results of a four-day work week have been making headlines in recent weeks. 92% of the 61 companies that took part will continue with the four-day work week.

Something must be working?

The headline results show 39% of employees were less stressed, 71% had less burnout and 62% said it was easier to balance work and social life.

It may be no surprise 56 out of the 61 companies will continue to operate a four-day working week after these results.


What does this mean for organisations sustainability practices?

Well, I believe the social value of the organisation operating this way will significantly increase. Employee retention will remain higher, employees will be more engaged, it will drive advocacy for the firm, it will attract new talent, it could result in higher levels of customer service and drive longer-term company value.

Social value is much more difficult to measure but I believe increasing social value can influence the bottom line, when done well.

But what about environmental sustainability? I do think there will be challenges. A recent podcast I recorded that will be published on Wednesday 8th March covers some interesting ideas about the way our working patterns have been impacted by Covid-19.

Many offices are downsizing, some are operating a work from home or hybrid policy, others are wanting their employees to come back to the office as much as possible.

Our new working patterns mean offices are emptier than ever. Space is not being used in the way it used to be. Heating and electricity will be wasted if an organisation cannot manage the space efficiently.

I do not know what the perfect answer is, I do not think there is one. The four-day work week is likely to further impact our building management in various ways.

First, it is likely to compound the issue of empty offices. It may bring people together in some aspects but will now mean the office is going to be emptier for an extra day per week or mean less people are working and therefore, less space will be required.

Second, it may drive change faster. Even less space is needed than previously and it could lead to businesses wanting to manage this sooner rather than later.

Contrary to that, if the four-day work week is increasing engagement of employees, more employees may want to be in the office more. Employees may feel more inclined to maximise their output and want to spend more time in the company offices with other employees.

I am looking forward to see the ways businesses utilise their space in new and creative ways.

What are your thoughts on how our working patterns are changing and how this is impacting a business’s sustainability?

If you have any thoughts, please email me or find me on LinkedIn.

Make sure you check out the latest Net Hero Podcast episode: