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The four-day week – What does this look like in the maritime industry?

The idea of a four-day working week had been brewing for some time, never reaching a substantial amount of popularity, until COVID-19 struck and hybrid and flexible working changed people’s opinions on the matter.

The traditional nine-to-five, five-day working week “looks more old fashioned than a Ford Model T”, said global staffing company Manpower Group’s Chairman and CEO Jonas Prising, at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos in May 2022. Indeed, the success of several countries (e.g. Belgium, Iceland and New Zealand) which already reaped the benefits of the four-day working week, urges other countries try it out, too.

For instance, a pilot programme was introduced by the UK’s national campaign for a 4 Day Week in June 2022 with more than 70 UK companies and organisations on board. The Gold Standard was to stick to a permanent 32-hour (or less) four-day working week, with a reduction of hours and no loss of pay. The founders of the programme have found a number of benefits of this approach, mainly:

  • Better work-life balance
  • Reduced cost of childcare and commuting
  • Higher performance and profits for the employers
  • The ability of companies to keep skilled and talented employees
  • Better mental and physical health
  • Gender equality
  • A more sustainable lifestyle

However, there’s still a lot of concern about its implementability in all industries.

We’ve asked members of the Maritime HR Association if they think it’s possible to transition to a four-day working week in maritime. The general answer is the industry is not yet ready to cut out one working day due to the 24/7 nature of business. Accommodating the working routine to different time zones is another big challenge. Despite the common impression it improves the work-life balance, some maritime companies are concerned it would increase pressure on staff to maintain the same workload in less time and rise equality issues. That means, it could be feasible for some departments (for example, corporate roles) while Commercial Operators would still have to work a full week.

In case the 4-day working week pattern becomes a market demand, some maritime companies believe they will probably have to hire more people and implement staff rotation to keep business going.

We hope the recently launched 4 Day Week National Rollout Programme 2023 will give us more ideas on how to help maritime companies adopt this pattern. Joe Ryle one of the Directors of the 4 Day Week campaign in the UK will be joining us at this year’s Maritime People & Culture Conference to discuss the campaign in more detail.

Written by Daryna Rozum, Reward Consultant, Spinnaker

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