4-Day Work Weeks, Is It Possible in Southeast Asia?

February 16, 202212:57 pm1936 views
4-Day Work Weeks, Is It Possible in Southeast Asia?
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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.

See also: New Zealand Company Makes 4-Day Work Week Permanent after Successful Experiment

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

Read also: Microsoft Japan’s 4-day Work Week Trial Boosted Productivity by 40%

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