Great Britain

Four-day working week could be ‘new normal’ for Brits after Covid, says tsar

BRITS could enjoy a four-day working week as the "new normal" following the pandemic, according to a government workplace tsar.

Chairman of the government's Flexible Working Taskforce, Peter Cheese, believes there is a "generational opportunity" to adapt conventional employment traditions after coronavirus wreaked havoc upon workplaces.

He said that flexible working could become the "norm, not an exception" and "can and should be seen as just as much an acceptable way of working as a more standard five-day working week."

Cheese said the pandemic was a "catalyst" that is "absolutely fuelling" the concept of more balance between employee's work and home lives.

He thinks the UK should "move away" from the nine-to-five culture and embrace the balance that working from home has brought to Brits.

He told Politico: "There are a variety of mechanisms by which you can support people in these more flexible ways of working, which can be helpful in terms of inclusion and wellbeing and balance of life.

"What we refer to as the standard five-day working week, that's what will begin to change. And it could emerge in lots of different forms, one of which could be a four-day working week.

"I don’t think we’re at that point," he continued.

"But, who knows? I think if we can really make some of these things work for us, if we can really make technology enable a better balance of work, and all those other things help us all, then maybe we will see more of those sorts of things being adopted."

Cheese, the head of industry group the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said any change would come from "emergent practice".

"In other words, organisations starting to do things like that, rather than government edicts."

Cheese then took aim at the government's "mixed messaging" on whether those who have been working from home should return to the workplace.

Peddling the work-from-home advice poses a sharp disparity as things continue slowly creep back to normal - as visitors to London's royal parks return to pre-pandemic levels.

Regent's Park now sees the same number of visitors as it did before the pandemic, while Hyde Park welcomes around 80 per cent.

But central London only has around 30 per cent of the usual number of workers travelling into offices.

Cheese promised the government is dedicated to a "default" right to flexible working, as pledged in the Conservative manifesto.

However, he shifted the responsibility of change onto employers rather than rules implemented by the government.

The taskforce is set to report to ministers in the coming weeks.

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