Sounds like a dream, right?
In the past year, we've come across various articles about countries trialling the 4 day work week, and seeing massive boosts to productivity and morale.
Microsoft in Japan as part of their ‘Work-Life Choice Challenge’ in 2019 implemented a paid ‘Friday off’ for every week in August and saw a 39.9% boost in productivity, as well as helping to preserve electricity and office resources - with number of pages printed decreasing by 58.7% and electricity consumption down by 23.1% when compared to August in 2018.
Likewise, Perpetual Garden, a New Zealand trust & investment advisory firm had a similar experience and found that the experiment benefited both the employees and the company. They have since adopted the four-day workweek permanently.
It’s all about working smarter, not longer. In other words, less goofing off and more focusing on work. According to a U.K. study done in 2017 by Vouchercloud, the average employee spends two hours and 53 minutes each day working productively - and this new initiative pushes workers to change their behaviour in order to work more efficiently within the 4 days in order to continue enjoying the benefit.
The idea is that employees give the company 100% productivity, and will get 100% of their salary. However, they only have to work 80% of the standard hours.
You'll be pleased to know that this initiative exists in Australia too!
Australia digital agency, Versa, bit the bullet and implemented a ‘Wednesday-off’ policy since July last year. In that time the results were positive - profits had tripled, revenue had grown by 46%, staff were happier, healthier and less likely to chuck a ‘sickie’ or resign.
The initiative of 'Wednesday-off' rather than Mondays or Fridays is designed to encourage workers to recharge mid-week, catch up on sleep, get more exercise, to take care of family and to take care of themselves mentally and physically too.
This was made possible by having 8-6 pm works days across the 4 days, which isn’t that much of a stretch from the traditional 9-5 pm. The only provision is that work is still completed within the hours.
While Kath Blackham, CEO of Versa, acknowledges that this may not suit every trade or company - she does encourage other companies to re-examine their working schedules.
The nature of work is changing, the nature of our society’s workforces are changing - so rather than watching your workers leave to find a place that is better suited to their lifestyle, why not adjust it so you can keep your good workers, while also benefiting from an increase in productivity too?
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to this change.
Some smaller companies who have adopted this 4 day work week have celebrated the benefits of greater work-life balance and higher employee productivity - but they have also said that it can lead to workers being pushed to the limits, leading to more pressure-filled days when people are on the job.
Some have also warned the push could cut workers’ pay or impact the company's competitiveness. A nudge towards reducing hours rather than legislating a cap may be more desirable.
Blackham hopes that companies will look at this and stop to think about different ways to implement a similar program that allows staff to be happier and more efficient.
She strongly believes the workforce is changing and that in 20 years, the 9-5 day will be a thing of the past, and we agree with that sentiment.
While it doesn't have to necessarily be the same change - a shift towards looking at what your employee's needs should be a big focus going into the next decade. Who knows what type of a positive impact it could have on your employee productivity, retention & morale?
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