Is the 9-day fortnight the new 4-day workweek?

6 min read | Barney Ely | Article | Workplace Flexible & hybrid working People and culture Flexible and hybrid working

4-day workweek

The four-day workweek took the workforce by storm after 61 UK companies entered a six-month trial earlier this year, with the vast majority resulting in positive outcomes: 56 organisations extended their trial, 18 of which have made the shorter week a permanent adjustment.

The four-day week evidently has substantial benefits – most employees say it’s had a positive impact on both their home life (92%) and professional life (84%), according to our four-day working week survey. And within the space of a year, the number of employers considering the four-day week has almost doubled, rising from 9% to 17%

Over a quarter (28%) of employers have implemented, or are considering implementing, a nine-day fortnight.


However, an alternative to the four-day workweek has been making headway: namely, working nine days out of every 10. Surveying over 9,000 professionals to find out what they really want when it comes to different ways of working, over a quarter (28%) of employers have implemented, or are considering implementing, a nine-day fortnight.

It would also seem that a large proportion of employees are willing to make sacrifices to see this working trend come to fruition. Following the results of our recent poll, receiving over 5,000 votes, 40% of respondents said they would be willing to work fully based in the office in exchange for every other Friday off.

Could the nine-day fortnight be a more feasible middle ground between the four-day and five-day week?
 

A happy medium

The four-day week has been found to bring substantial benefits, including improvements in wellbeing, decreased sickness days, more time with family, better work-life balance, fewer carbon emissions, and more. However, there are some noticeable barriers, and 53% of employers who aren’t considering implementing the four-day week say it’s because they’re not prepared from an operational perspective. On the other hand, the nine-day fortnight could be a reasonable compromise whereby the operational implications are not so drastic, yet the benefits are still felt.

The nine-day fortnight could be a reasonable compromise whereby the operational implications are not so drastic, yet the benefits are still felt. 


As long as employees are getting five days off in a fourteen-day period, the nine-day fortnight can be applied in a number of different ways. Some organisations prefer everyone to have the same set day off every other week, whereas others prefer employees to have varying days off – this can work best for client-facing roles, so as not to lose a business day. Additionally, certain companies may opt for compressed hours, meaning employees would work slightly longer working days to recoup time lost during their day off. Whichever method an organisation chooses though, employees can theoretically enjoy an extra 26 days off per year.

There have been encouraging examples of a nine-day fortnight being implemented by organisations. CharlieHR began a trial for all 50 of their employees back in 2021, and it was a great success – employees reported a 24% decrease in work-related stress and an 11% increase in productivity. Roughly 18 months later, their nine-day fortnight is still going strong, with the HR advice and software business exclaiming the workplace model’s value as an effective employee attraction and retention tool – one that’s set them apart from the competition.

According to our research, more employers have implemented, or are considering implementing, a nine-day fortnight (28%) over the four-day week (22%) – perhaps reflecting the reduced structural and operational shift. Currently, the nine-day fortnight is most likely to be implemented, or at least considered, by organisations at the widest ends of the size spectrum: 37% of micro-organisations (up to 10 employees) and 32% of very large organisations (1,000+ employees).
 

Flexible working is fundamental for attracting and retaining top talent

Over two-thirds (68%) of professionals would be tempted to move to a different organisation if it was offering a nine-day fortnight working arrangement.

It’s a candidate-led market at the moment, with the UK unemployment rate currently at just 3.8%, and flexible working patterns could be a key differentiator when hiring and retaining talent.

Flexible working policies have seen a sharp increase since the COVID-19 pandemic. As per ONS statistics, only around one-eighth of all working professionals reported working from home prior to the pandemic, and this figure has risen exponentially since then; our most recent Salary and Recruiting Trends Guide found that 72% of employers are now offering hybrid working. In correlation to this, work-life balance is on an upward trajectory, with positive ratings now at 59%, compared to 54% and 52% the years prior.

No matter which workplace model an organisation decides on, it’s increasingly clear that flexible working policies are an important way of engaging employees in the new era of work.

To discover more insights and recommendations about different ways of working, get our What Workers Want report today.

 

About this author

Barney Ely - Managing Director, South East

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