The four-day work week. If it hasn’t already come up in conversation with your executive team, it will soon. Though it’s not a new topic, the pandemic and subsequent hybrid working arrangements have brought the idea back into vogue.
According to the CEO of 4 Day Week Global, Joe O’Conner, in a recent Korn Ferry article, “Companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, productivity-focused working is the vehicle to give them that competitive edge.”
We are in an unprecedented time for the US labor market. More people than ever are voluntarily leaving their jobs. Remote work has become the norm for a majority of organizations. Skilled labor shortages are affecting companies across industries. Creating a strong organizational culture around employees’ needs has become paramount to improving retention and satisfaction.
For years, many people thought technology would reduce the amount of time we needed to be in the office and may facilitate a four-day work week. However, the opposite has proven to be true. Technology has kept us connected to the office more than ever and created blurred lines in a work-life balance.
The four-hour work week has a number of benefits according to career experts, including, “lower stress levels and more time for exercise, sleep, and family and friends, as well as increased creativity and engagement.”
According to the World Economic Forum, many countries are trialing a four-day work week. “Belgium’s right to work a five-day week in four days with no loss of salary. Iceland’s “overwhelming success” trialing a shortened work week “dramatically increased” employee wellbeing. And the UK business-driven four-day work, five-day pay, or the seven-day “just get your work done” model are just some more examples. The “working week, working hours” debate is not new and it’s not done, that’s for sure.”
If you’re considering the four-day work week as an option, you’ll want to make sure productivity doesn’t wane. Microsoft Japan saw a 40% increase in productivity and higher employee satisfaction scores when they tested a four-day work week. Below are some suggestions to help you and your team test the concept.
Transition over time, a few hours a week for a month or two. And keep track of how you have changed your daily habits. Are there things you’re doing that are less productive? By looking at how you spend your time to get your work done in fewer days, you’ll be able to maintain productivity and cut out unproductive processes.
Use the transition to reimagine how you schedule your day. Block off time to focus by setting “do not disturb” on your phone and using calendar holds. You can also set a specific time to reply to emails instead of doing it throughout the day.
Another way to increase your productivity in fewer hours per week is to stop multitasking. It is a myth. Asking our brain to go back and forth between tasks actually reduces our productivity. “A University of London study found that multitasking reduces productivity by 44%, so try single-tasking to succeed within the four-day workweek framework.”
The flexibility offered by the four-day work week can’t be ignored. And if you are a company that would prefer more time together in the office, the four-day work week is an option to consider. In today’s business environment, the challenge to attract and retain talent is harder than ever. Test different flexible options to find what works for your company.
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