South Africa recently conducted its first trial of a four-day work week, with some notable differences compared to other countries that have implemented this switch. Surprisingly, less than one in four employees opted to take Fridays off during the trial period.
The research conducted by 4 Day Week Global revealed that among the 28 participating companies, most exhibited greater flexibility than their global counterparts, allowing workers to choose the day or times that best suited their needs.
Unlike other countries where employees commonly choose Fridays as their day off, South Africa’s divergence from this trend can be attributed to several unique factors.
One such factor is the prevalence of “side hustles” or entrepreneurial activities that many South Africans engage in alongside their regular jobs.
Additionally, limited options for conducting administrative activities online and challenges related to travel, particularly in a country with inadequate public transportation, further contributed to the difference in employee preferences.
It is worth noting that approximately 71% of the participants in the trial were women. South Africa already faces productivity challenges due to rolling power outages, which disrupt operating hours and hinder work-from-home plans.
Furthermore, a lack of skills has resulted in a staggering unemployment rate of 31.9% in the country. The trial employed a model that offered full pay to participants, with a commitment to maintaining the same level of output despite a 20% reduction in working hours.
The majority of participants belonged to professional services, IT, marketing, and financial services sectors. Remarkably, 92% of the companies involved in the trial expressed their intention to continue with the new schedule.