The biggest 4 day work week trial in the world is underway. Employers who are partaking in the trial agree to pay 100% of pay for 80% of time, in return for a promise to deliver 100% of the usual output. The aim of the trial is to assess the impact of working a four-day week on the productivity of the company and the employees’ well-being. It includes over 70 companies varying from large organisations to local shops.
Ultimately, the pandemic changed the way organisations look at work from every level. Leaders are now looking at the four-day week as a vehicle for a competitive advantage and managers are much more open-minded to this idea post-pandemic. For those industries that had the remote working transformation, this could be a logical next step.
At The 4 Day Week Global, the consensus is that people’s expectations around what is a reasonable balance between life and work have been altered forever. The value that people place on having that extra time for family, for community, to learn new skills or to take up new hobbies, the pandemic has really changed people’s priorities.
But what benefits can a four-day week have to an organisation and its’ employees?
The 4 Day Week Global explains the following benefits on their website:
PRODUCTIVITY –shift your business away from measuring based on hours worked, and towards measuring based on results. The 4 day week has been proven to deliver increased productivity in businesses all over the world in a broad range of industries.
WELLBEING –improve the work-life balance of your employees and deliver transformational benefits in their daily lives, while improving physical and mental health, and reducing levels of burnout, stress, sick leave, and absenteeism. The 4 day week is shown to result in happier employees, with higher levels of job satisfaction and brand loyalty.
ENGAGEMENT - create a more energized, efficient, empowered, and motivated workforce which is focused on organisational priorities, delivering outputs, and achieving key targets, rather than on the time spent at the office, at the desk or on the clock.
RECRUITMENT –give your business a competitive edge when it comes to attracting the best talent, and increase your pool of potential recruitment candidates, as well as helping to retain your best employees and cut down on unplanned attrition.
SUSTAINABILITY – reduce the carbon footprint of your business through reduced commuting and reduced energy use, as well as enabling more sustainable lifestyle changes among your workforce outside of work.
GENDER EQUALITY –enable a better distribution of caring responsibilities between mothers and fathers, even the playing field by reducing barriers to women achieving senior positions in work, and reduce childcare costs.
INNOVATION –future proof your business, in response to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fourth industrial revolution of AI, automation and digital technologies. Being an early adapter and a market leader will establish you as an innovative, progressive, forward-thinking business that stands out from your competition.
The trial itself will assess company performance metrics, to include revenue, productivity, employee turnover, absenteeism, and sick leave. Other factors will also be monitored, such as well-being, burnout, stress, life satisfaction, job satisfaction, and how this is impacting people’s work-life balance.
There is also a focus on the impact on carbon emissions. Does reduced commuting and reduced energy use in buildings drive down emissions at a company level? And finally, gender equality. What impact does this have on household distribution of work, and will this enable a greater balance between work and domestic responsibilities?
It is important to remember that the four-day work week does NOT mean the elimination of all flexibility. It is saying we need to change to evolve the standard expectation. In other words, from a leadership perspective, clear boundaries must be set in order to facilitate this culture change.
The four-day week forces us to rethink how we work and consider how we can we get more efficient in order to deliver the same output with fewer or more efficient inputs. Research has shown that the average office worker is only truly productive for three hours a day due to to poor meeting discipline, distractions and interruptions in the work day, outdated processes and poor use of technology. The four-day work week provides a framework to address these challenges and inefficiencies and rewards employees with this additional time. It powerfully aligns company interest with employee interest that could be quite transformative, both for the business and for its people.