A New Way of Working: 4 Day Work Week
We all enjoy long weekends, or, bank holidays that we are all anticipating with excitement. This anticipation is so effective on our motivation that the rest of the weekdays are also shaped by it. So, what if we abandoned the standard 5-day workweek schedule and apply a brand-new way of working called 4 day work week.
Would companies' profits get affected? Would it enhance the loyalty of employees by the increase in their welfare levels?
Let's discover it together!
What Does 4 Day Work Week Mean?
You may already know someone who works compressed hours, putting in 36-40 hours over four days. Or 9/80 work schedule which offers a one-day off at the end of the two weeks by increasing the remaining work hours for the rest of the week.
A 4 day work week isn't so much a compacted schedule as it is a reduction in hours. Employees would work approximately 28 hours over four days, with a three-day weekend which is a better scenario than all other work schedules.
Trials Have Been Started
One of the first trials have been held in 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based corporation, performed a 4 day work week pilot study with 240 employees. The outcome was better than expected. Besides, the increase in employee productivity, the staff is more creative than ever with nearly full attendance. On the other hand, their work-life balance has improved by 24%. They were also less stressed. The number has dropped from 45% to 38%.
Now in the UK and US, more than 3000 workers from 60 companies are a part of 4 day work week trial. The trial which is being led by academics from top universities and non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, will take place for 6 months and include many different industries and businesses. It seems to be the biggest pilot study ever.
The main objective of this study is to prove how this new shortened working week model will affect productivity while not causing any profit losses. And in the end, encourage other businesses to try it.
According to Joe O'Connor, CEO of the 4 Day Week Global, the interest in the pilot program has risen dramatically in the last 12 months, after the effects of the pandemic and so the Great Resignation.
He also clarifies that although many of the first participants are from industries such as tech, finance, and professional services, this year's industries are varied from restaurants to nonprofit and political organizations as well. This also shows the increased demand for the new working models to retain the employees.
The estimated number of workers that will be joined to trial is 10,000, by the end of the year.
The Pros of a 4 Day Work Week
After many different case studies and trials, it is clear that new ways of working should be applied to businesses. Since our habits have been changed with remote work, we get used to having flexible work arrangements. And this causes to search for new models. 4 day work week seems to become one of the most popular ways of working, especially during the pandemic. Let's see how it's effective in our daily work lives:
It's been discovered that there is a strong correlation between productivity and working schedules. Even though working long hours seems like an easy way to reach company goals and increase profits, it's meaningless whether those long hours are effective. Overworked employees are less productive than those who work shorter but more effectively.
Given that some of the world's most productive countries, such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, work on average approximately 27 hours per week — the same hours advocated for a UK 4 day work week — the findings of this study are expected.
On the other hand, Japan, a country famed for overworked workers, is ranked 20th out of 35 countries in terms of productivity.
A 4 day work week can help everyone to save money. The most apparent benefit is that this would significantly reduce operating costs because the office would be closed one extra day per week.
Additionally, employees would spend less on commuting and would see cost savings in other areas such as lunch and coffee during the day.
Employees have more free time with a three-day weekend. There aren't many individuals who will object to that.
It's a win-win!
When you have more time to do the things you enjoy, you'll of course be happier. Having more time for yourself enhances overall satisfaction and can help to increase corporate loyalty.
Health Problems Are Less Common
According to Mind, a UK-based charity group, one in every six of the UK population has a mental health problem at some point during the week.
People will be able to spend more time with their friends and family and do things they enjoy if the weekend is more extended, which will naturally boost their wellness.
It will also allow them to have an extra lie-in each week, and recharge a little more after a long week.
Retention and Recruitment
Offering a more flexible work schedule is an advantage that persuades employees to stay at a company recently.
Employees are encouraged to work week after week when they know they'll get a three-day weekend. It's still a somewhat unique benefit, but it may be a terrific way to attract top talent and keep them motivated.
What About the Cons?
It isn't Appropriate for Every Business Model
Unfortunately, a 4 day work week isn't suitable for every company. It's only a viable choice for businesses that can convert their entire operation to a new style of functioning.
Adopting a new working style is a huge step, so it should be considered wisely whether a 4 day work week is the best fit for your firm.
Longer Working Hours and Increased Work-Related Stress
Some of the 4 day work week employees will most likely be expected to work the same 40-hour as five-day-week employees. Shifts might be prolonged to ten hours in this situation. This is one of the bugs in this working model.
Longer days may harm your employees' stress levels and their general health and productivity.
The logic behind this 4 day work week schedule is to increase the efficiency of employees by improving their welfare, not to tire them with unrealistic standards.
Customer Satisfaction is Important
A Utah research, which had excellent environmental results and employee/employer advantages, was forced to cease owing to low consumer satisfaction. Customers complained that they couldn't get government services since the offices were closed on Friday.
Customer satisfaction concerns might be solved by utilizing technology like chatbots and AI-powered websites, which would provide customers with an alternative to depending on office-based staff employees.
How To Transform Into a 4 Day Work Week Schedule?
Hopefully, the 4 day work week has piqued your interest—or at least, you can see how it's becoming more widely accepted.
Companies must restructure their work processes to make the transition to a four-day workweek a success. Four factors are crucial to achieving shortened workweek without sacrificing productivity:
· Reducing the length of meetings (or eliminating them).
· Introducing "deep work" time that is uninterrupted.
· Adopting a more attentive attitude to technology (avoiding notification pings that are "always-on").
· An emphasis on outcomes rather than absenteeism by leaders.
While we believe it is beneficial to both employees and employers, there are methods to help move more smoothly and efficiently for everyone.
Set Your Team's Expectations
As with any significant, company-wide change, transparency will go long. Managing expectations from the beginning will be critical to a smooth transfer.
It's a two-way street when it comes to the 4 day work week. Employees should have an explicit limit set by the company (for example, no slacking or emailing on weekends), but they should also be required to keep up with their tasks.
Employers should not anticipate a drop in productivity, as evidenced by the data. In reality, most trials of a four-day workweek show the exact reverse.
It's also up to leaders to structure duties to allow employees the flexibility they need to complete their work in a short amount of time. This entails clearing their schedules of repeated meetings and switching to asynchronous communication to save time, reduce misunderstanding, and increase productivity.
A top-down approach is the most excellent method to set expectations correctly. Your staff won't buy into async communication or become excited about a "4 day work week" if you don't lead by an example. For instance, if you make it a rule that no one sends messages on their day off, you should follow suit.
Time to Make Communication Changes
Taking a day off from work will have a distinct appearance and feel. You're likely to fail if you continue to operate similarly as before.
Examine your meeting schedule and how your organization communicates internally before switching to a four-day workweek.
Because almost half of businesses have become remote by 2020, your staff are likely to have made significant progress in operating away from the office. The techniques you employed to optimize remote operations will come in handy in the 4 day work week.
The capacity to interact asynchronously—responding to the same project, idea, or message at various times—will be critical. This is especially true if you assume that some employees work Monday through Thursday while others work Tuesday through Friday, and so on.
First, Test It!
You wouldn't change the copy on your website or the budget for your product without first trying it. Consider testing the four-day workweek in your company for a shorter period—but long enough to determine if staff adjust—such as a few months.
Make benchmarks clear, and don't commit to conducting the test indefinitely unless everyone is satisfied with it. Testing minimizes friction, and like with anything in business, it's essential to experiment and respond to data.
One Last Takeaway
When business models and working structures change drastically, planning and taking wooden steps towards your goals is essential. We always think planning to be one of the most critical steps to achieving solid plans. So it's more important than ever to manage your time and improve your efficiency by planning projects, teams, and costs.