Growing call for four-day work week as India Inc employees work overtime

A few companies in the UK and Microsoft in Japan may have experimented with a four-day working week, but in India, the story is different: a majority of employees feel they are working close to six-day weeks and such a concept is at least five years away, according to a new survey.

Six in 10 office workers join work-related calls, send emails or instant messages for work purposes outside their preferred working hours everyday, finds ‘The Future of the Working Week Study’ from Florida-headquartered digital workspace solutions provider Citrix.

Among the causes were work culture, a desire to set an example, and desire to do the extra work. However, monetary benefits emerged as the dominant cause with 34% respondents reporting that they get paid for this overtime and 34% of respondents believing that completing overtime would improve their chances of getting a promotion or a bonus.

The survey was commissioned to understand the changing dynamics of the working week for full-time office workers in India, and presents an overview of the premise of a four-day work week while also offering insights into how viable it would be and the likelihood of it becoming commonplace in enterprises across the globe.

“The boundaries between life and work are getting closely blurred. Seven in 10 Indian employees feel they are facing an overtime epidemic – there is a growing call for a four-day working week but the reality is that 77% respondents feel they are closer to working a six-day week,” Ravindra Kelkar, area vice-president, sales and services, Indian subcontinent, Citrix, told ET.

Almost half (45%) of office workers still believe that improved processes could help reduce the extra time overload, while others said better technology and cloud-based technology might also be helpful.

There have been some experiments with a four-day work week, but over a third (38%) of respondents state that it will take at least five years for their employer to be able to offer a four-day work week on the same salary as a five-day work week, and one-fifth (20%) believe that their employer would never be able to offer a four-day week.

However, a staggering 97% say they would adopt a four-day working week given the opportunity. Retaining the same pay is crucial for a four-day working week to be feasible for most individuals, and this is where the conversation often falls short of becoming reality.

“Our current workloads and lifestyle models are resulting in a need to work beyond our preferred hours,” said Kelkar. “While there is no one size fits all solution to this, enterprises need to look for efficient ways of working for their employees. Enabling the availability of solutions that give employees the opportunity to work flexibly and smartly will not only ensure their satisfaction but will also benefit the organisation in the long term.”

The survey was undertaken by 500 full time office and home workers across India, including the finance, professional services, construction and manufacturing, health, government and other sectors.

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