(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s first four-day work week trial shows some differences from other countries that have tried the switch — less than one in four employees took Fridays off.
Among the 28 companies that started the six-month study in March, most were more flexible than global peers in allowing their workers to choose the day or times that best suited their needs, according to the research by 4 Day Week Global. In other countries, many chose Fridays not to work.
The divergence was largely because of some unique South African traits, such as a number of people having “side hustles or embryonic entrepreneurial activities alongside their normal job,” limited options to do administrative activities online and travel challenges in a country that has poor public transport. About 71% of participants were women.
South Africa is already facing productivity challenges as rolling power outages stymie operating hours and disrupt work-from-home plans. A lack of skills has contributed to a 31.9% unemployment rate.
The study used a model that offered full pay, with a commitment to delivering the same output on a 20% cut in time at work. Most participants were in professional services, IT, marketing and financial services and 92% of the firms planned to keep the new schedule.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.