Nearly half of Australian professionals think a four-day working week for full-time work will be a reality within five years, according to a new study.

Recruitment and workforce solutions company Hays conducted a survey of 42,000 professionals and found that 40 per cent of respondents believe Australia will have a four-day work week in the next five years.

Just over 15 per cent said it could be a reality in the next year, while a further 21 per cent believe it will take up to a decade to become the norm.

Less than a quarter of respondents to the survey said a four-day work week will never happen.

“The four-day work week has been a topic of discussion for several years, but the pandemic shifted the way we work and now many professionals continue to prize flexibility,” Hays managing director in Australia and New Zealand Nick Deligiannis said.

“Proponents argue a four-day work week can boost productivity, improve employee morale and wellbeing, and reduce stress and burnout. At a time of talent shortages, it can also aid candidate attraction, engagement and retention.”

The four-day work week is based on the 100:80:100 model, where workers receive 100 per cent of their pay for working 80 per cent of their hours while maintaining 100 per cent productivity.

The workplace revolution has been picking up steam around the world and in Australia following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most recently, the Australian Services Union secured an enterprise bargaining agreement that will see 90 per cent of Oxfam Australia employees working a four-day week for full pay. This will see all permanent full-time workers at the charity working 30 hours per week at their normal rate of pay. There will be a review into the new working structure in six months.

In August last year more than a dozen Australian companies started a trial of the concept, while Unilever launched its own 18-month trial late last year, with 500 employees taking part.

Last month, a Greens-led and government-backed Senate committee recommended a public service trial of the four-day work week after it heard “substantial evidence” of its effectiveness in terms of improved work-life balance, mental health and productivity.

Deligiannis said it’s important that companies looking to try out this concept select the right model for them.

“There are concerns about the practicalities,” he said.

“Many employers worry that a shorter work week could lead to decreased productivity, increased labour costs in organisations that require staff onsite five days a week, and increased pressure on staff to meet current outcomes in fewer hours.

“Despite this, it seems that many workers are optimistic about the prospect of a four-day working week becoming a reality. As organisations continue to experiment with different working patterns, it will be interesting to see if this optimism is justified and whether the four-day work week will become more widely adopted in the years ahead.”

Deligiannis said there are four main models for introducing a four-day work week, including when workers all take the same day off, they stagger their days off, different departments within a company take different days off or the hours are seasonally adjusted.

Hays also conducted a survey of 9,600 people in the United Kingdom and found that while just 5 per cent of organisations have introduced or are trialling a four-day work week, just under 10 per cent are considering it.

The study also found that more than half of the respondents would consider moving jobs to secure a four-day work week.