In a 2019 work experiment that was conducted in Japan, it has found that shortening the work-week from 5 days down to 4 could result with increased productivity, and general workplace happiness.
However, employers in Malaysia feel that the country isn’t ready for it yet.
According to Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Soh Thian Lai, most of the employers in the country, especially the SMEs are not ready for a 4-day work week. He also pointed out that the amount of public holidays, maternity leave, sick leave, and similar days-off offered in Malaysia already averages out the work week to four days.
“As such, reduced hours per week or a four-day week is not required.” he said.
Apart from that, Soh said the 4-day work week will increase the cost of wages. Using 24/7 factory operations as an example, Soh said any work performed beyond the 4 days would mean more overtime.
“Someone, in this case, the consumer, will have to bear the costs of new hours of work, which will be passed on to the products and services that the industries provide,” he said.
He then said that almost all the economic sectors had tried the work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, but this working arrangement is not suitable for sectors that require physical presence on the production floor.
“We need to have a clear understanding and determine clear baseline measures such as companies’ revenues, employees’ productivity, carbon footprint, and others under the present hours of work in Malaysia and compare these with the proposed changes to the shorter work hours.”
“Until and unless a detailed study is undertaken, Malaysia should not embark on this new hours of work arrangement as it may result in a disastrous outcome,” he said.
However, Soh said that shortening the work week is possible with more automation in the production floors. However, automation in Malaysia is still very much in its infancy. Until then, the five-day work week is here to stay.
All that said, these came from FMM, which is a union for employers and not employees. Naturally, the cost would be emphasized in the 4-day work week debate.
How did 4-day work weeks go in experiments?
In the summer of 2019, employees at Microsoft Japan were given a 4-day work week, while still earning their regular 5-day work week salaries. The experiment showed a 40% productivity boost. In addition, the technology giant also reported massive savings, lowering electricity costs by 23% and printing nearly 60% fewer pages.
Meanwhile in Belgium, the country’s government allowed employees to opt-in for a 4-day work week if they feel it fits their needs better, while their employers can only reject this request if they have a good enough reason to.
Additionally, employees can choose to ignore any after-hours phone calls from their employers without worrying about the repercussions. It also emphasizes that all work-related matters don’t have a place during personal hours.
Do you think a 4-day work week will work for Malaysians? Share your thoughts!