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4-Day Work Weeks, Is It Possible in Southeast Asia?
February 16, 202212:57 pm1936 views
Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels
Important: The definition of a 4-day work week in the survey is a COMPRESSED, not REDUCED 4-day work week (i.e same total no. of hours per week). In this arrangement, an employee is expected to still work 40 hours/week (i.e. 10 hours/day), and will have 3 days off instead of the usual 2 every week.
The idea of a 4-day work week has been discussed for a long time with few companies actually implementing it, as employers raise doubts about the productivity and salaries of their employees. However, the pandemic has highlighted employees’ desire for better work-life balance, which put the spotlight back on the discussion yet again.
While employers largely remain skeptical towards the idea of employees working fewer hours, what about compressed 4-day work weeks? Compressed work weeks typically require employees to clock in the same number of hours every week, but within 4 days instead of the typical 5. Milieu Insight recently released the results of their “4-Day Work Week” study, involving 6000 employed respondents across Southeast Asia. The study aims to find out opinions about compressed 4-day work weeks and some of the concerns surrounding this arrangement.
1. Malaysians are less receptive towards a compressed 4-day work week
Our survey found that working 5 days a week is typical in most Southeast Asian countries except Indonesia and Vietnam, where 6 days work weeks are more common
Receptiveness towards compressed 4-day work weeks is rather positive, with at least 7 in 10 in Southeast Asia indicating at least an 8 from a 0 to 10 scale when asked how much they would like this arrangement to be implemented at their workplaces – this includes Vietnam (78%), and Indonesia which is slightly below the average at 69%
However, there’s a stark exception in Malaysia where only 48% voted so
2. Some are willing to take a small paycut, but most think that a compressed 4-day work week does not warrant one
When asked what’s the percentage pay cut they are willing to take to implement this work arrangement, the most common response is ‘0% – it does not make sense to adjust salaries with this policy’
This is most strongly felt in Singapore and Thailand, where 73% and 61% respectively chose this option
Interestingly, only 24% in Vietnam chose this option, and responses are more spread out across the range of pay cuts, with 19% being able to tolerate a 20% pay cut even.
3. Better work-life balance is the top voted benefit, but paycut is a worry
With work compressed to the 4 days, people are expecting to get better work-life balance (67%) and also getting more time to spend with their loved ones (64%)
However, more than half are worried that this arrangement comes at a cost of their pay, and 47% think that extended 10-hour days could be stressful and tedious
4. Seniors and juniors are largely on the same page, but more seniors are worried about team management
Not much difference between seniors (managerial level and above) and juniors (below managerial level) when comparing receptiveness towards the compressed 4-day work week arrangement
However, seniors tend to be worried about ‘difficult team management’ (34% vs 27%) – the new arrangement may require managers to maintain the same, if not higher, levels of productivity