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Is a four-day workweek the solution for happier business post-pandemic?



Young female workers back in the office during an informal meeting
30 UK-based companies are moving their employees to a four-day working week for a six-month trial - Photo: © Mimi Thian

No one would have dared to suggest it, prior to a pandemic that grounded employees at home and made companies learn new ways of keeping business as usual, with staff working remotely miles away from their empty offices.

But now that, over the past two years of mastering Slack and Zoom meetings, employees realised that commuting several hours just to sit in front of a computer or to answer a phone doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity, a shorter week is on the cards. 30 UK-based companies are moving their employees to a four-day working week in an attempt to boost productivity in the workplace this year.

The concept is known as the 100:80:100 model, where workers receive 100% of pay for 80% of their time, as long as they commit to 100% productivity.

Across the pond, other companies are also trying to reduce working days to increase staff retention, with Panasonic announcing a four-day workweek policy earlier this year and San Francisco-based checkout startup Bolt adopting a four-day workweek after conducting a trial in which executives improved productivity and work-life balance.

It is the latest development of the new normal, now that several countries have dropped national mandatory work from home rules. And almost 100 years since Henry Ford adopted a five-day workweek when, in 1926, when his factories stopped production on Saturdays and Sundays, the new move to make our workweek even shorter is certainly a welcomed one.

But how feasible it is to fit approximately 40 hours of work, the average weekly hours of many employees, in fewer days? And, most importantly: can it really make a difference?

For entrepreneur Baruch Labunski, CEO at digital marketing company Rank Secure, age and position within a company can play a vital role in whether a reduced week, on paper, might not turn out to be that reduced after all.

“Employees who are younger and motivated will likely like the idea, as it gives them an extra day off. That could mean more effective production. However, those a little older or senior-level employees may see it as a negative because they already work long hours and likely would still need to come in all five days. That could mean no benefits.”

Labunski also believes that logistics can be an issue preventing the success of a four-day week for many companies:

“The other issue that would be negative for some companies is keeping production lines going to keep up with orders as most employees move to the four-day workweek. It could end up costing the company more in overall employee pay as well as negatively affecting production. After all, the company must still contend with vendors and customers who may not be on a four-day workweek.”

It is logistics, indeed – and not old structured weekdays and how people split them in between work and private life – that will end up proving to be the biggest challenge for companies trying to implement a shorter week in 2022:

“A four day working week sounds excellent – for a full-time employee at least. For an employer, it comes with problems as it effectively increases the wage bill but for no obvious increase in output. It creates issues for roles where cover is required as there is one day less per employee available to be deployed. It also causes problems when the employer has part-time employees as do you then reduce their hours pro-rata? The only way I have seen a four-day work week work well is when a compressed working week is in place as the hours are still broadly the same. I have benefitted from this arrangement in the past myself and enjoyed having that extra day off each week while still performing my duties in a full-time capacity. Four longer days isn’t for everyone though and it wouldn’t work for employees with certain learning requirements or disabilities for example.” – says Sophie Milliken a recruitment and employability expert with over 15 years of recruitment experience and author of the book ‘From Learner to Earner’, a recruitment insider’s guide for students wanting to achieve graduate job success (Rethink Press, 2019).

In a new world where many of us have now got used to work from our home offices, often wearing clothes way more comfortable than any workplace’s dress code, it is no wonder companies are struggling to bring staff back to fill their offices from Monday to Friday. But can companies find out if a four-day work week will, realistically, positively impact productivity and staff happiness?

HR specialist Suki Sandhu

Suki Sandhu, from INvolve: Covid-19 and remote working showed us how quickly and effectively individuals can adapt to new working practices

UK-based HR specialist Suki Sandhu, founder of INvolve, a global network and consultancy enterprise championing diversity and inclusion in businesses, believes that data collection, when done properly and with transparency, can improve productivity and wellbeing in the work place.

“Many forward-thinking companies are already monitoring both productivity and wellbeing as key performance indicators, so it should be clear to see if the needle is moving. However, for those who aren’t, there are many advantages in understanding and connecting with different employee experiences, so finding new ways to collate key data is important. But it must be done correctly and openly. Tracking employees without consent or clear justification – especially through technology – is a dangerous trend which can be counter-productive to both productivity and happiness. Instead, it is important to engage employees with any data-collection process to outline both the reasons, and how the information they provide will help everyone in creating a better workplace.”

The four-day work trial in the UK is expected to last approximately six months and companies taking part are provided with support from experts, researchers, and academics. But before we can see any results, companies planning to replicate the work model already utilised by many companies in Japan should think it through, taking one step at a time to be able to cope with the potential downsides.

“Just like any major change, there will be an adjustment period. Some people define themselves through their work, it is part of their identity, so scaling back the time they dedicate to it may initially be challenging. However, Covid-19 and remote working showed us how quickly and effectively individuals can adapt to new working practices – if, and only if – they are adequately supported and championed by their employers. The fact is that productivity doesn’t necessarily suffer when work time is reduced to 4 days so the stress of not getting enough done should quickly subside and become business-as-usual.” – complements Suki Sandhu, from INvolve.

As we move forward into 2022 and beyond, maybe the solution to bring employees back to work is exactly that: to allow them to carry on working from their homes, even if just a day per week.

The pandemic may be coming to an end. But those Slack chats pinging on the corner of your PC and Zoom meetings with domestic sounds popping in the background are not over, yet.


The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project announces 50 nominees



Kim Rihal, founder of social enterprise Equal Education, is one of the 50 women shortlisted for The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project
Kim Rihal, founder of social enterprise Equal Education, is one of the 50 women shortlisted for The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project

Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day 2023, Häagen-Dazs launched ‘The Rose Project’, a global initiative with a $100,000 (USD) bursary grant inviting nominations to recognise unsung trailblazing women in honour of the brand’s female co-founder Rose Mattus. Yesterday, 23 November, on what would have been Rose Mattus’ birthday, Häagen-Dazs announced the top 50 #WomenWhoDontHoldBack nominees being shortlisted for their achievements and its five globally accomplished Häagen-Dazs Rose Project judges.

Over 2,500 applications were received for The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project putting forward pioneering efforts and societal contributions made by women across the globe. From these, 50 talented and inspirational women have been shortlisted and will be put forward to win one of five monetary grants of $20,000 (USD), which will be announced on International Women’s Day 2024, to continue their exceptional work, unleash their potential or give to a cause they are passionate about. The top 50 shortlist includes women from 17 countries hailing from across Europe, Asia, Africa & Middle East, Australia and the Americas.

The all-female judging panel from across the world has been handpicked for the final selection stage of The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project includes. UK-based author, broadcaster and philanthropist Katie Piper, fashion entrepreneur and advocate for women’s fertility issues, Velda Tan from Singapore and Spanish entrepreneur and creative director Inés Arroyo, are amongst the judges.

“International Women’s Day 2023 marked the launch of The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project to honour the legacy of our co-founder, Rose Mattus, and create a fund platform to provide opportunities to women across all fields around the world who are truly deserving of support and recognition. We were thrilled to receive thousands of nominations across countries and our #WomenWhoDontHoldBack Top 50 shortlist is a compelling and diverse mosaic of trailblazing female narratives that moved us and serve as an inspiration to women everywhere”, says Aurélie Lory, Häagen-Dazs spokesperson.

To find out more about the story of each entrepreneur shortlisted for The Häagen-Dazs Rose Project, visit:

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47% of women feel their workplace is not combatting inequality



Katherine Maher, CEO, Web Summit, on Centre Stage during day one of Web Summit 2023 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal
Katherine Maher, CEO, Web Summit, on Centre Stage during day one of Web Summit 2023 | Photo: Eóin Noonan/Web Summit

The proportion of women who feel that their workplace is not taking appropriate measures to combat gender inequality has nearly doubled in a year, a new survey has revealed.

Web Summit, the world’s largest technology event taking place in Lisbon this week, has released its third annual State of Gender Equity in Tech report, which is based on a survey distributed among its women in tech community.

76.1 percent of respondents feel empowered to pursue and/or hold a leadership position; fewer respondents (41.8 %) feel the need to choose between family and career when compared to 2022 (50.4 %); and there is at least one woman in a senior management position in 80.4 percent of respondents’ companies, a similar proportion to last year (81.3%).

The survey found that 70.5 percent of respondents feel pressure to prove their worth compared to male counterparts, while 77.2 percent feel they need to work harder to prove themselves because of their gender.

Over three quarters of respondents (76.1 %) feel empowered to pursue and/or hold a leadership position. And almost half of respondents think that their workplace is not taking appropriate measures to combat gender inequality, increasing from 26 percent in 2022 to 47
percent in 2023.

“While it is encouraging to see progress in some areas, such as those feeling the need to choose between their family and career, there are also some deeply concerning trends within this report. Seeing an increase in those who report having experienced sexism in the workplace in the last year is disheartening in 2023. We hope that this kind of research can breed some positives, and that it will push workplaces – and women within these workplaces – to broach these topics and make progress in these areas,” said Carolyn Quinlan, VP of community at Web Summit.

Last year, 42 percent of attendees at Web Summit were women and 33 percent of speakers were women. In 2023 these numbers have slightly improved with 43 percent of attendees and 38 percent of speakers on stage being women this year.

The women in tech programme at this year’s Web Summit is at capacity, and the women in tech programme at Web Summit Rio 2023 reached capacity in record time.

The WebSummit 2023 is running from November 13th to 16th in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Krispy Kreme to give away free donuts on World Kindness Day



A box of Krispy Kreme donuts opened and with donuts inside
The company, founded in 1937, is giving away 60,000 free doughnuts around the world today | Photo: Clément Proust

American multinational doughnut company and coffeehouse chain, Krispy Kreme, is celebrating “World Kindness Day” today by distributing free donuts in the US and the UK.

The chain is giving away a box of a dozen glazed donuts for free with no purchase necessary. But only the first 500 guests that visit each participating Krispy Kreme US stores on “World Kindness Day”, Monday November 13th, will be able to get a free box of donuts.

Krispy Kreme often gives away free or discounted donuts to generate buzz on special occasions. The company, founded in 1937, traditionally gives out free donuts to customers on National Donut Day, celebrated on the first Friday of June of each year. And in July, a dozen of glazed donuts were sold for 86 cents to celebrate its 86th birthday.

Thousands of free donuts are also expected to be given away today across Krispy Kreme stores in the United Kingdom, with customers being encouraged to ask for the World Kindness Day offer. No purchase necessary.

The company, which operates in over 30 countries around the world, said it wants the brand associated with World Kindness Day to make “meaningful connections” with customers.

“World Kindness Day is an opportunity to make a positive difference by being generous,” Dave Skena, Krispy Kreme’s global chief brand officer, said in a release. “Simple gestures of caring and thanks, including sharing a sweet treat, is a great way to do that.”

Krispy Kreme said that it’s considering expanding a limited partnership it has with McDonald’s to sell more of its donuts at the latter’s location.

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