The Four-Day Workweek in IT: Perspectives from Ukrainian Businesses

The notion of a four-day workweek has been making waves globally since the last decade, with several countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, some EU nations, Australia, and Japan experimenting with it. However, its implementation varies, leading to diverse outcomes. Notably, in the UK, a six-month trial involving over 2,900 employees concluded this year, yielding positive results, with many companies considering making this change permanent.
Turning to Ukraine, the feasibility and impact of a four-day workweek are under scrutiny. The European Software Engineering Association’s survey sheds light on the local IT industry’s perspective.
Nazar Mysholivskyi, CEO and Co-founder of LNOKS, has observed the practice in partner companies from the UK and the US. He points out the varying results due to different approaches and highlights AI’s potential role in time-saving. However, he cautions against over-reliance on AI at its current development stage, given its limitations and the need for customization. However, it still can save 8 hours per week by fulfilling routine tasks if they are prepared and organized for AI.
The ongoing war in Ukraine adds another layer of complexity, affecting employee schedules and overall productivity. Nazar raises concerns about the loss of work hours and its impact on company output, also noting the importance of effective rest for employees, which is not a skill everyone possesses.
Elizabeth Kudela, Head of Content Marketing at Elit-Web, echoes the uncertainty regarding AI’s reliability. She notes that even with AI’s help in routine tasks, manual intervention is often necessary. She argues that any time saved should be directed towards scaling and development rather than additional days off.
Interestingly, Ukrainian professionals seem less inclined towards an extra day off, with many preferring to use that time for freelance projects. This tendency could affect their efficiency on regular working days or even lead to them being poached by companies offering more work and better pay.
Victoria Chuchyna, CEO of Digital Data Consulting, stresses that AI’s primary benefit is not in reducing work hours but in increasing efficiency. Her company uses AI tools to boost productivity, focusing on results rather than fixed working hours.
In the context of work-life balance, Victoria notes that the concept is currently perceived differently in Ukraine. With the ongoing crisis, work often serves as a defense mechanism, and the focus is more on working efficiently rather than less.
Maxim Kolyada, Co-Founder and CTO of PLATMA, acknowledges the success of the four-day workweek in cases like Microsoft Japan’s 2019 experiment, which saw a 40% increase in productivity. However, he emphasizes that this model is not universally applicable and currently not suitable for Ukraine. He suggests that such experiments could be considered post-war, but warns of potential obstacles like employee resistance, efficiency drops, financial challenges, and the need for comprehensive preparation and risk assessment.
Despite the challenges specific to Ukraine, the concept of a four-day workweek holds several undeniable benefits, both for companies and employees.

For companies, these advantages include:
Increased Productivity: The opportunity for employees to recharge can significantly boost their productivity. Enhanced focus and concentration often result in more efficient work.
Reduced Operational Costs: A shorter workweek can lead to savings on electricity, cooling, and other office-related expenses.
Higher Employee Satisfaction and Retention: Offering flexible work hours can be a strong draw for attracting and keeping top talent. Happy employees are more likely to remain loyal to the company.
Enhanced Corporate Reputation: Adopting policies that prioritize employee well-being can positively impact a company’s image, especially in today’s social media-driven world.
Boosted Motivation and Engagement: The possibility of a better work-life balance can motivate employees, enhancing their overall health and mood.

The benefits for employees are equally compelling:
Improved Work-Life Balance: An extra day off each week allows for more quality time with family and friends or for personal development.
Reduced Stress Levels: A shorter workweek can help in managing stress and improving mental health.
Heightened Productivity: The prospect of more frequent breaks can lead to heightened efficiency during working hours.
Better Physical Health: Additional free time opens up opportunities for more physical activity, contributing to a healthier lifestyle.
Sustained Motivation and Engagement: Employees satisfied with their work schedule tend to have a more positive attitude towards their work and a deeper engagement with their company.

However, realizing these benefits hinges on careful planning and considering all potential scenarios for implementation.
In conclusion, while the four-day workweek has proven to be a beneficial practice in many developed countries, its application in Ukraine faces unique hurdles. The ongoing war and resulting economic instability, coupled with the readiness of Ukrainians for such a change, are significant barriers. Although such scheduling has shown positive outcomes elsewhere, the current conditions in Ukraine do not favor such experimentation. The feasibility of adopting a four-day workweek in Ukraine might be reassessed post-crisis, when risks are less critical and the environment more conducive to such changes.

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