The four-day work week, an initiative headed by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart internationally, kicked off in South Africa in September last year.
The initiative aims to support the model of a four-day work week globally and is based on the 100-80-100 model, where employees get 100% of the pay for 80% of the work in exchange for producing 100% of the output.
While the initiative has boasted impressive statistics from participating companies around the world, leading South African organisations such as Discovery, Nedbank, Tymebank, Spar and Food Lovers are less optimistic about the working model, according to reports by BusinessTech.
Leading SA organisations share feedback on four-day work week
While the second phase of the four-day work week trials are still underway in SA, leading local organisations have expressed that the four-day work week does not align with their company’s operations, adding that other models such as hybrid/remote working and flexible hours are more suited to their companies.
Within the financial industry, companies such as Discovery, TymeBank, Nedbank and RMB have all shared reasons as to why the four-day work week model is not a fit for their businesses.
As quoted by BusinessTech, Steve Teasdale, Chief People Experience Officer at Discovery says:
“Our view is that for many types and sizes of businesses and organisations, the implementation of the 4-day workweek will be an incredible success both in terms of productivity and the flexibility for its people, and the research of the 4-day workweek certainly supports this,”
“The reality is that for certain businesses and their operations, it will not generate the benefits, and other work models that balance flexibility and productivity will be more suited.”
Nedbank’s Group Executive for Human Resources, Deb Fuller, shared similar sentiments expressing that Nedbank must “balance workforce needs with ensuring operational continuity and uninterrupted customer service.” According to Fuller, a four-day work week does not support these values.
RMB’s Chief People Officer, Sungeetha Sewpersad says that RMB experiences the same misalignment with the working model, as the organisation “must be available for its customers at all times.”
However, African Bank steers away from these shared sentiments by going beyond the four-day work week and implementing a three-day work week in July.
Gcobisa Ntshona, Chief People Officer African Bank, says:
“We need more intimately connected teams who will work together to realise our audacious targets as we step up our efforts and work towards a historic moment – our first Initial Public Offering (IPO),”
In the retail industry, companies such as Spar and Food Lover’s Market have also weighed in, expressing doubts about the four-day work week within their respective groups.
National Human Resources Executive at the SPAR Group, Thuli Tabudi tells BusinessTech that it’s impossible to implement the working model due to the nature of operations in the retail sector. Tabudi says:
“We have not discussed this (the 4-day workweek) due to the nature of our business. Within the SPAR Group, we work seven days per week to deliver stock to our retailers so that they, in turn, have stock on shelves for their consumers,”
Travis Coppin, CEO of Food Lover’s Market retail division expresses the same concern, adding that “retail is a seven-day business and requires constant commitment” and that the majority of Food Lover’s Market employees have hands-on roles at group stores.
Does hybrid working and flexible hours show more promise?
Despite the four-day work week not resonating with these SA organisations, many of them (especially in the finance sector) have however adapted to other working models, better suited to their operations and workforces.
For example, Nedbank practices a hybrid working model, where a number of staff work from the office, some remotely, and some dividing time between working at home and in-office.
Addtionally, TymeBank has also adapted to a hybrid model across various roles in the company.
Similarly, Discovery reportedly implements one of three hybrid working models fitted to the nature of the employee’s role.
RMB have also stated that they would be committed to a hybrid model to meet the needs of its employees, instead of adapting to a four-day work week.
Pnet, a local recruitment platform, tells BusinessTech that the number of available roles offering remote working opportunities has decreased slightly over the last year, but still sees a drastic increase since 2020.
“We can see in our data that, although the trend of advertising remote work opportunities is down 28.2% when comparing January 2023 to January 2022, January 2023 is up 87.8% on January 2021 and up 1,289% on January 2020,”
Even though remote working opportunities have gone down in the last year, many companies are still open to a hybrid working model, about ten times more open than they were just three years ago! This proves that working models are shifting, even with a four-day work week out of the equation.
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