Article: Are Southeast Asians open to compressed 4-day work weeks?

Employee Relations

Are Southeast Asians open to compressed 4-day work weeks?

A Milieu Insight study findings say that with work compressed to four days, people are expecting a better work-life balance, however, more than half are worried that the arrangement comes at a cost of their pay, and 47% think that extended 10-hour days could be stressful and tedious.
Are Southeast Asians open to compressed 4-day work weeks?

The idea of a four-day work week has been discussed for a long time with few companies actually implementing it, as employers raise doubts about 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 sceptical 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 four days instead of the typical five. In this arrangement, an employee is expected to still work 40 hours/week (i.e. 10 hours/day), and will have three days off instead of the usual two every week.

Consumer research and analytics company, Milieu Insight, has released the results of their “4-Day Work Week” study, conducted with N=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.

Malaysians are less receptive towards a compressed 4-day work week

The survey found that working five days a week is typical in most Southeast Asian countries except Indonesia and Vietnam, where six days work weeks are more common.

Receptiveness towards compressed four-day work weeks is rather positive, with at least seven in 10 in Southeast Asia indicating at least an eight 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.

Some willing for a small paycut, but most think it is not needed 

When asked what 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.

Better work-life balance top voted benefit, but paycut a worry

With work compressed to the four 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.

More seniors 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.

 The study is based on Milieu surveys with N=500 seniors (managerial level and above) and N=500 juniors (below managerial level) each in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, conducted in December 2021.

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Topics: Employee Relations, Employee Engagement

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