Asia Leads The Charge: A Four Day Working Week


Fast Retailing, the parent company of Japanese fashion house Uniqlo is bringing in the option of a four day working week to some of its regional employees. We’ve got the reasoning and the hopes of this initiative.

Work/Life Balance

We’ve previously covered flexible working and a growing desire for this from employees on our blog. Teamed with this growing desire is growing evidence that demonstrates flexible working as incredibly effective for productivity, morale and retention.

In October, Uniqlo will be giving regional employees the option of working four ten hour days and having a three day weekend instead of the usual five. This will effect around 10,000 employees.

Improving Recruitment

Typically, recruitment is struggling and Uniqlo has a very high rate of staff turnover. This initiative is designed to help reduce this. Additionally, in Japan a growing number of workers must now leave their jobs early in order to care for their elderly parents. The four day working week initiative aims to help with this problem too, increasing retention as a result. Finally, Uniqlo are looking to expand and hire an extra 6,000 staff – something they hope will be made easier by this new strategy.

A Recovering Reputation

The retailer has a tough reputation and reports of working conditions aren’t overly favourable. So the start of a revolutionised working week could well help with recovering Uniqlo’s standing too.

Flexible working – although never really out of the spotlight – has been in the spotlight a considerable amount recently. Virgin’s Richard Branson has voiced his support of the work/life balance and Amazon’s tough working conditions recently put them in hot water with regard to societal perception. The online retailer was the focus of an expose showing hostile and unforgiving work environments and schedules and public perception has been tarnished as a result.

We’ve wondered previously about which large companies will be brave enough to take up the baton and make the necessary logistical adjustments to give flexible working a go on a larger scale. We wish Uniqlo’s initiative the greatest success!