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“The options of four, five or six day work weeks, gives flexibility to firms to play around with the production hours to suit their requirement," says S. Venkatesh, group president (human resource), RPG Group. Some of the group’s companies have been adhering to a five-day workweek in their manufacturing facilities. Shifting to a four-day, however, won’t be easy. Spending 14-15 hours out of home, even if it’s only for four days, will be counterproductive, Venkatesh believes.

It may, however, work for people in structured work routines, where specific work output is defined, like in the case of an internal researcher or a tax expert. “In certain junior level roles in IT and ITeS too, the organizations can get more productively out of the same real estate," he says.

In March 2020, a week before India went into its first lockdown, Citrix, a multinational dedicated to improving efficiency of organizations through technology, published a study, The Future of the Working Week, looking at the feasibility of a four-day workweek in India.

About 75% respondents believed India Inc. was facing an “overtime epidemic". Over 60% of participants showed interest a four-day workweek option provided they continued to get their current salary. It was unclear whether the participants were okay with working longer hours.

Chetan Yadav, chief people officer, Tally Solutions, believes fewer working days may bring in overall work-life balance. “With work-from-home, a major reason for increase in work pressure is the blurring of office time and personal time. With fewer working days despite longer hours and three clear off days, the problem of increased work pressure should reduce," he says.

Some companies are open to evaluating its feasibility based on interest from employees.
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Some companies are open to evaluating its feasibility based on interest from employees.

While his firm is not planning to shift the work model, Yadav says they are open to evaluating its feasibility based on interest from employees.

Not everyone is convinced, though. “Organizations will need to be conscious of the effect of longer working hours. Research indicates increase in work hours does not always mean increase in productivity. In many cases, this has often led to decline in productivity," says Srinivas Rao, director (human resources), SAS India.

Some experts believe that with work-from-home practices continuing, perhaps the focus should be on employee well-being. Most countries that adapted to the four-day workweek reduced the total working hours.

“The employees are encouraged to take up areas of passion or non-conflicting careers during the additional working day or spend quality time with family," says Shillpa Chabria, director (human resources), ThyssenKrupp Industries India.

Anuranjita Kumar, founder and CEO of Women in Technology (WiT) India, concurs. She believes by the time India Inc. returns to office full time, like they worked during the pre-covid days, a lot would have changed in terms of working style and habits. She explains: “I find people today are fearful of their return to the workplace too. Let’s address this first, and then timings at work can be decided."

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