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Pretty much everyone wants a 4-day work week, says survey

A survey of 1,000 workers by Slack finds that 86% would prefer to work longer hours over the course of fewer days, as well as broad support for flexible work options.
Written by Pallavi Kenkare, Associate Editor
Getty/Maria Tan

Asynchronous, remote and hybrid workstyles are rising in popularity, and can even enable a more accessible cost of living, reports Slack, the workplace-messaging app. 

A survey of 1,000 UK workers by Slack found that almost nine in 10 respondents (86%) would prefer to work longer hours over fewer days, by shortening the typical working week from five days to four.

Asynchronous options – workstyles that allow workers to work when they want, as well as where they want – are also popular among those advocating for a non-traditional work schedule: 69% of respondents to Slack's survey said asynchronous working gave them time to perfect ideas and responses before communicating, and more than six in 10 said asynchronous work maximized their productivity. 

SEE: 10 time management strategies to become more efficient at work

Slack calculates that asynchronous work saves employees an average of two hours and 53 minutes weekly, solely by replacing real-time meetings. Indeed, a new study by Qatalog and GitLab, Killing Time at Work '22, reports that the flexibility afforded by an asynchronous work schedule also boosts the caliber of output: 81% of respondents said they created higher quality work when they had autonomy over their work schedule.

Reimagining work to eliminate certain time constraints has been a hot topic, especially in light of the sundry workplace revelations highlighted by the pandemic.     

The notion of a shorter working week has been gaining momentum as a remedy: Microsoft Japan's trial four-day work week in 2019 was regarded a success, resulting in a 40% rise in productivity. Meanwhile, the biggest four-day work week trial in the world has just started, comprising 70 UK companies participating for six months, with similar pilots happening in the US and elsewhere.

Flexible work options could also better workplace culture. Specifically, asynchronous work schedules could remedy the recent phenomenon of "digital presenteeism" – the pressure to appear visible while working remotely, which can leave employees unable to truly log off. 

Of course, schedule flexibility isn't the only request highlighted by employees: Slack found that 66% of respondents say they would look for a job immediately, or within three months, if hybrid or remote working was not offered by their company. Though not surprising, this statistic demonstrates that work location flexibility is here to stay – and that companies that don't keep pace with offers of increased flexibility will be seen as less desirable workplaces.

SEE: Remote workers want new benefits. This is how employers are responding

Given the current cost-of-living crisis, Slack's study concluded that location flexibility could also aid workers' wallets. Currently, inflation is skyrocketing, impacting food and fuel prices. Working from flexible locations could provide a solution: 70% of respondents attribute a lower cost of living to hybrid workstyles that eliminate certain meal and travel expenses. 

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