In the quest for improved work-life balance and increased productivity, businesses are reevaluating their traditional 5-day working week. Episode #46 of The Company Doctor, featuring Gary Gamp – Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of business optimisation experts Smart/tasking – delves into the fascinating concept of a 4-day working week. As the world adapts to continually changing times, many companies are contemplating the benefits and challenges of this approach. In this blog post, we’ll explore the intriguing insights from The Company Doctor’s latest podcast, and discuss how the 4-day working week could be the future of work.
Unleashing the potential of a 4-day working week
In his podcast, Gary sheds light on the historical context of the workweek, tracing it back to when people used to work a full seven days a week. The 5-day working week, to which most of us are more familiar, actually arose in the industrial north of England. At first, this was a voluntary arrangement between factory workers and mill/mine owners – with the compelling argument that if they were given a Saturday afternoon off, they would arrive at work on Sunday reasonably sober and able to do their job well!
Thanks to the spread of Industrialisation – and with the influence of the Church – the 5-day working week became the norm. That is, until Covid – and now, with technological advancements enabling effective home-working (not to mention rising costs of commuting, and the environmental impact it carries) – most of us have taken a more hybrid approach to working.
Citing a recent BBC story, Gary mentioned the results of a trial conducted in 2022 involving 70 firms. A whopping 86% of the companies found the 4-day workweek to be highly successful, prompting them to make it a permanent arrangement after the pilot ended. It wasn’t long before the advantages became clear, with increased productivity and significant financial savings for employees on commuting and childcare being just two of the benefits.
The key takeaway here is that reducing the working week doesn’t necessarily lead to a decline in productivity. Instead – as the 2022 trial proved – employees tend to be more focused, motivated, and creative during their working hours. For instance, a New Zealand-based company reported a 20% increase in productivity after adopting the 4-day working week.
Challenges and concerns for business owners
While the concept of a 4-day working week holds promise, it does raise concerns for some business owners. One of the main worries is its potential impact on revenue and business operations. Some might fear that reducing work hours will lead to a decline in output and customer satisfaction. However, evidence from the 2022 trial shows that revenue remained stable or even slightly improved for many companies during the experiment. Additionally, there was a surprising 65% reduction in sick days, indicating healthier and happier employees.
Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to widespread adoption of the 4-day workweek is a lack of trust. Business owners might worry that employees will take advantage of the additional day off, leading to decreased productivity. To overcome this, it is crucial to foster a culture of accountability and responsibility – and, of course, clear communication. Setting performance metrics and establishing a results-driven approach can help alleviate such concerns.
Changing the way we work
Transitioning to a 4-day working week demands a shift in work habits and practices. Businesses must embrace planning, prioritise tasks, and reduce wasteful activities. This approach encourages efficiency and forces employees to focus on essential tasks, resulting in increased productivity. What’s more, collaboration becomes a necessity – contributing to productivity even further. Companies that implement a 4-day working week often extend working hours slightly, providing employees with more time for teamwork and discussions. This increased team-time can lead to better outcomes and a stronger sense of camaraderie among team members.
The way ahead
As the world contemplates the future of work, the 4-day working week is emerging as a promising option for businesses. The success stories from various trials indicate that employees benefit from improved work-life balance and higher job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and reduced burnout. While challenges and concerns exist, careful planning, open communication, and trust-building strategies can pave the way for successful implementation. Ultimately, embracing the 4-day working week may be the key to unlocking a new era of work culture, where employee well-being and productivity thrive hand in hand.
Has your company changed its working habits in the last 3-4 years? Tell us your experiences – we’d love to hear from you. Comment on this article, or why not email us at email@example.com.