Good news for the more than 500 employees of the central Swiss gastro empire Remimag: soon they will only have to work four days a week instead of five! With the same weekly working hours, but still: three days at the weekend!
Remimag co-managing director Bastian Eltschinger (41) did not opt for the flexible working time model without reason. “Like the entire industry, we have trouble finding enough staff,” he says to Blick. “The four-day week makes us more attractive to younger applicants from generations Y and Z.” Eltschinger speaks of millennials, who often value leisure time more than the baby boomers before them.
In Bern, Eltschinger will soon be opening the Röschtigrabe restaurant in front of the Parliament building. “We need 60 to 80 people there alone,” he calculates. 40 have already been found. More are to be added – possibly because they hear about the offer of the four-day week. “Of course, the four-day week is voluntary,” emphasizes Eltschinger. If you want, you can continue to work five days instead of four.
30 percent more applications
Eltschinger is not the first with his idea: Hotels and restaurants keep making headlines with the introduction of the four-day week. With more than 30 companies from Lucerne via Zurich to Basel, Remimag is by far the largest Swiss catering company to jump on the bandwagon. The establishments include the Albisgüetli in Zurich and the Hafenrestaurant in Zug.
Eltschinger has gone through the concept of a four-day week for some of his companies. “We wrote rosters and saw: It works.” But not always. No hotelier, no restaurateur wants employees to sit around idly when all the guests have long since left.
Lukas Meier (32) knows the pitfalls of switching to the four-day week from his own experience. He is the director of the two 25 Hours Hotels in Zurich. The four-day week has been in effect there since the beginning of May. “But you can’t introduce that overnight, it takes time,” says Meier. In the kitchen and service, the four-day week is only 70 percent a reality. “We’re still missing a few jobs to fully implement it.” After all, since the 25-hour hotels started using the four-day week, the number of applications has increased by 30 percent, Meier estimates.
Are 15-hour days imminent?
Christa Augsburger (52), Director of the SHL Swiss Hotel Management School Lucerne, welcomes the fact that Remimag, another major restaurateur, is now introducing the four-day week. “The working days with room hours, when you work five days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., are simply no longer bearable for the younger generations.” The pressure from the shortage of skilled workers is now so great that hoteliers and restaurateurs have no choice but to adapt.
But even with the four-day week, not everything will improve all at once. First of all, according to Christa Augsburger, this is just one of many urgently needed improvements in working conditions. “You also have to improve the wages. And meet the employees at eye level! In many hotels there is still a strictly hierarchical and very authoritarian style of management.»
Second, the SHL director has some concerns that the four-day workweek could, in some cases, lead to worsening working conditions. “It must not come down to working 15 hours a day. That wouldn’t be healthy in the long run.”
Central Switzerland’s major restaurateur Eltschinger is also aware of this. «Anyone who works 15 hours at a time is not productive. Mainly because our work is physically and mentally demanding.”
Not a model for seasonal businesses
Despite all the innovative spirit: the four-day week is not a panacea. Anyone who runs a seasonal business in the mountains, for example, is hardly flexible enough for it. Even in the small village inn with three employees, the roster quickly becomes impossible if everyone only works four days.
In any case, the more than 500 Remimag employees can register immediately if they want to take advantage of the four-day week.
WEF Chef Antonio Sellitto: “Joe Biden is like a family man to me”(02:19)