Employers have considered it for many roles.After all, does it matter how many days per week your team works, or the productivity within those hours?Traditional management and scheduling models are being challenged by the rapid adoption of remote work during the Covid-19 health emergency.And some businesses are asking the question, once more.
There are both advantages and concerns that companies have, when considering a four-day workweek.For some service and administrative roles, a four-day work week may not be possible. For instance, if the individual is responsible for technical support or customer services.
But what about professionals who have a set number of responsibilities weekly, that can be finished at any time during the week? Does it make sense to keep them scheduled to the 9-5 model, with two days off per week? Or are some of your highest performing employees capable of condensing their productivity to accomplish all that you need, in four days?
What the Covid-19 health emergency has taught us, is that the workforce of any business needs to be geographically fluid.We cannot assume that in-office work will also be an option.With new health threats in the future, businesses are closely monitoring work-from-home performance.And the plausibility of workshare that may see in-office space shared between many professionals. On a variety of different work schedules.
New Zealand Study Finds Productivity Increased With Four-Day Workweek
A financial services company named Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand, made the leap.The company had many employees who were accustomed to working from home.And that accommodation did not change productivity levels. It enhanced them.
The next step for Perpetual Guardian was to implement a four-day workweek, instead of the traditional five-day schedule.The company had 240 employees.The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology monitored the pilot program. And found that staff scores increased in areas including stimulation, empowerment, commitment, and leadership skills.
You can download the research whitepaper or watch video interviews from some of the executive team.The response from employees and managers was positive.Perpetual Guardian experienced no loss in productivity, and an increase in employee satisfaction and loyalty. Job related stress levels were reduced from 45% to 38% according to the employee survey.And the work-life balance scores increased astronomically, from 54% to 78%.
From the pilot project, a book was written by Andrew Barnes and Stephanie Jones.In “The 4 Day Week: How the Flexible Work Revolution Can Increase Productivity, Profitability and Wellbeing, and Help Create a Sustainable Future,” is a valuable resource for managers.
The Risks of Implementing a Four-Day Work Week
Creating a new work schedule does not happen quickly, or easily.First, management must ascertain what percentage of employees would be eligible to engage in a four-day work week. It will not be practical to apply it unilaterally to all positions within the organization. And that could also, present a human resource challenge.
Managers can be pragmatic when determining which employees could shift to a new four-day (ten hour per day) schedule.It is an opportunity that would be coveted by all employees.The human resource and management team would need to decide whether to pilot the innovative schedule with a few departments first.In order to evaluate what impact (if any) the change would have on teamwork and productivity.
The administrative cost of making the change could be great.And if it is successful, the implementation of a four-day workweek could result in greater performance, productivity, and a reduction in operational expenses. Or it could be an expensive program to launch that does not work well for your business.
If you think changing to a four-day structure is difficult, try switching employees back to a standard scheduled five-days per week. It could result in significant demoralization of your team, and even loss of high-performing employees.
The most important consideration, however, are labor laws.Even if you have buy-in from every employee in your organization, you may risk wage and hour violations.If you are considering the switch, a labor or employment attorney should be consulted.It is possible to implement continental shifts (this is done in healthcare, emergency, and law enforcement settings frequently).But it will require legal protections and framework to be in place to protect your business against liability.
Advantages of Modifying the Traditional Five-Day Work Week
The advantages for employees are clear.Your staff can enjoy savings on commuting costs, and other expenses associated with working in-office.And the clearest benefit to employees is of course, more time at home.To dedicate to family, hobbies, rest, and relaxation.
But the four-day work week also presents some very tangible cost-savings and culture advantages for businesses. It can be an effective way to significantly reduce expenses.At a time when all businesses are looking to reduce costs.
1. Your Business Will Attract More Millennials
Have you been struggling to attract younger qualified applicants? Millennial professionals are quite different than Generation X employees.They value work and life balance.They are less materialistic and more motivated by a qualitative standard of living. One that does not center exclusively on their career.
Millennials can be competitive about career advancement and take pride in working for high-growth organizations.But traditionally, Millennials are the least likely to spend every weekend working on extra projects.They are fundamentally grounded and defend their time off with family and friends.
Millennials in general would be receptive to four, ten-hour days to allow for a three-day weekend every week.Like other employees, they would consider it to be an attractive perk.And it may help employers to both attract, recruit, and retain millennial talent.
Would you leave an employer who allowed full-time pay for a modified four-day workweek? Unlikely. For businesses who have been struggling with talent retention, it can be a viable solution.It is such a desirable accommodation, that employees may remain engaged and loyal to your organization.
2. Savings on Cost of Production and Operation
Many global companies have experimented with the four-day work week.And one of the advantages that they have reported is a significant savings to the cost of operations.This can mean reduced energy use (which increased when 50% or more employees work remotely).It can also allow businesses to downsize the commercial space that they rent.
In some markets, commercial lease space is expensive. During the Covid-19 pandemic, as businesses have been forced to transition employees to work remotely, space is underutilized. This creates an opportunity to use office space more efficiently.Or, in some cases, downsize the headquarters location and eliminate supplement space that may have been leased to accommodate new workstations.
Flexible scheduling can be one of the most valuable perks and accommodations an employer can offer.And with increased time outside of work (three days per week), some employers have also seen a significant reduction in the number of absentee days.Having every Friday off for example, allows employees to schedule medical appointments, which means they do not have to use a vacation day for activities of self-care.
Before implementing a four-day work week to your entire organization, you may want to test the opportunity with contract hires.And if your own internal pilot program is successful, consider expanding the four day – forty-hour workweek to business units that are most functionally suitable to the flex schedule.
Featured Image: Sam Wordley | Deposit Photos