My Column

Real 4sight or risk working strife

  • Date: Monday 27th February 2023
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I was interested to see the world’s biggest trial of a four-day working week reach its conclusion, and to see it being hailed as a “major breakthrough”.

It seems most of the companies involved are planning to stick to the shorter week following the pilot.

Campaigners have been since urging lawmakers to give every worker a 32-hour working week.  Their rationale? The results revealed a significant drop in stress and illness among 2,900 staff who tried out this model of working, rather than the traditional five days.

Apparently levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping and burnout had decreased substantially, while more staff reported that balancing care responsibilities had become easier.

I'm sure most of us would agree that an extra day off work every week to catch up on errands or spend quality time with family and friends sounds pretty good.

But there’s bound to be an element of cynicism, even from those who like the idea, and I understand why. I still can’t thinking: what’s the catch?

Yet other trials carried out through the years in other countries have found similar findings.

And Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, believes the most recent trial, which was rolled out in various sectors across the UK, is the absolute game-changer for this idea to finally be taken seriously.

He reckons the time has now come to begin rolling it out.

The adoption of the five-day working week (or rather the concept of allowing employees to have weekends off) has been around for almost a century, although there were a few attempts to do so before.

Henry Ford was credited as one of the first employers to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week at his Ford Motor Company plants in 1926.

Before this, workers often put in up to 100 hours a week, and Ford’s idea for the reduction was actually more capital oriented. He realised that if companies were to make a profit, then customers needed to buy things; and in order to have time for shopping, they needed more time off work.

Today’s inspiration for a further reduction is for obviously different reasons. The pandemic has changed attitudes to work and life, caused many to reassess their priorities and highlighted the importance of a work-life balance and a focus on wellbeing.

So for many reasons, the idea of a shortened work week sounds attractive.

But with such a drastic change comes a whole load of questions.

How much will people be expected to cram into those four days? Will it mean longer hours and more intense work? And if so, could that actually exacerbate stress levels?

And not all companies have the same business models and work a nine-to-five day, so will it work for all business models and all industries? I suspect it may make things difficult or even impossible for some.

Another consideration would be the impact a four-day week might have on the long-suffering high street, which is already being crippled by soaring business rates, the cost of living crisis, parking charges and rising energy bills.

I suspect some business leaders may feel disgruntled about paying the same wages for less time.  Sure, some staff might go all out to have an extra-productive four days, but what’s to stop others doing the bare minimum and simply enjoying that ‘free’ extra day?

But there’s a counter-argument. Arguably, here in the UK, we work the longest full-time hours compared to countries such as Germany and Denmark – yet their productivity is marked higher. So they’ve got to be doing something right.

Does that mean we’re the ones who are behind the times?  Maybe we are on the cusp of a major change and the idea really will be given support on the back of this pilot.

In 2021 it was announced that Scotland was to have its own £10m pilot exploring the transition to a four day week and it’s economic impact but it’s yet to happen.

At the end of last year Marek Zemanik, the CIPD’s senior public policy advisor for Scotland hit the nail on the head when he said that we are still lacking clear evidence. So let’s watch this space and see if Scottish research paves the way for major change.



The post-pandemic workforce has changed considerably with many businesses now preferring hybrid working, combining both working in the office and at home.

In a lot of industries it has come to be expected, and if you check out job adverts, employers are using it as a selling point to entice applicants.

Many of my business connections have found huge value in it and find they can work more effectively and get a better balance with the best of both worlds. They can collaborate with colleagues when they need to but can gain valuable hours back on other days when they ditch the commute.

Commercial property is my passion so I can’t help but notice the rise of flexible workspace options popping up to meet the needs of companies with a hybrid model.

Take CoVault, for example.  It’s part of the Storage Vault family (which provides self-storage) but this savvy company has clearly spotted an opportunity to cater for these changing business needs by offering fully-furnished, flexible spaces with month-to-month contracts.

As it continues to expand it has just recently opened a snazzy new office space on Bath Stret in Glasgow city centre.

Once upon a time flexible workspaces might have meant boring box-rooms that lacked character, but times are a changing and this place is the perfect example with some real wow-factor.

It’s a 19th century Victorian townhouse transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with workspaces across 12,000sqft and one look at its fancy furniture, amazing domed glass roof and mix of classic and contemporary.

I reckon the only problem it might have is actually persuading hybrid workers to stay home occasionally because it looks like a great working environment!



Plans for Aberdeen’s regeneration are well known, with the Aberdeen City Centre and Beach Masterplan in the works, Union Terrace Gardens now open and the Union Street transformation continuing to rumble on.

Impressive as that is, I did have a wee chuckle at the city’s latest plans to erect a giant name sign in Castlegate, following in the footsteps of locations such as Amsterdam and Toronto.

Aberdeen tourism bosses are hoping the giant letters will become a city landmark, encouraging visitors to take photographs and share them on social media.

I’m sure it’ll generate a buzz around the city and possibly even become a tourist attraction in its own right.  But while the likes of the Hollywood sign has tourists clamouring to get their photos taken with it in the background, I can’t quite see the Aberdeen sign getting quite the same level of interest.



I was really sad to see that yet another company from the already-struggling hospitality industry has fallen victim to the cost-of-living crisis.

You may not know the name Kained Holdings, but I’m sure you’ll recognise lots of the venues in its portfolio, such as Oyster Bar, Lebowskis, Porter & Rye and Rogue.

The group has been given a court order to pay its debts.

I was relieved to hear that jobs have been secured across the business, but at this stage it’s still unclear what the future holds for these Glasgow restaurants and bars.


Kained Holdings is known for bringing big brands to the Finnieston area of the city so it would be a real shame to see some of these west end institutions go. Fingers crossed there's still hope for them to be saved.

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