By Emma Videan
Back in September, Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress insisted that evolving technology and communications would cut the number of hours spent at work. She believes that by the end of this century, everyone will have a decent wage, work four days a week.
When the report was released, I was working full-time, five days a week in London. My days consisted of getting up at 6am and getting home at 7pm, unsurprisingly, reducing the week by one day was hugely attractive to me and I was frustrated by her saying it might take until the end of the century for this to happen! The weekends seemed painfully short with the Sunday blues hitting after my roast dinner and trying to fit in socialising and sleep was near impossible. Now that I’ve caught up on hours of sleep, I’m able to reflect on whether I still agree.
According to a Labour Force Survey, 49% of all working days lost in 2016-2017 were reported as being due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Not only this, but according to a survey by Perkbox, only 9% of people have never experienced work-related stress. Perhaps a fact that is closer to home is that the most stressed worker in the UK is a 25-34 year old male living in Cardiff.
I’ve worked in a few office environments and across the board, Fridays are far less productive than the rest of the week. Working in public relations, we discounted Fridays for contacting most journalists, as there seemed to be a general trend of getting through to voicemails on this day. What I found most surprising was that on Friday, the train was surprisingly emptier than on a Monday. I could always get a seat on my journey in and back from London.
Work-from-home-Friday, as it’s been referred to, could be a solution to an overload of stress from long busy weeks. Many jobs offer flexible working hours and days where work can be done at home and I think that this would hugely benefit those that suffer from workplace stress, many of who are apparently in Cardiff.
A trial of 4-day weeks was conducted earlier in the year in New Zealand and the findings were that work remained up to standard, while teamwork and engagement increased and stress decreased. Overall, I understand that this may not work for all companies right away. There would be a long adjustment period, particularly for companies that deal directly with clients. However, if offices were to allow one day a week for the team to work from home, it would cut down the hours and cost of travelling and could even improve productivity, as there are less office distractions.