The four-day workweek has recently gained popularity, in part due to an experiment performed in the U.K. this year. A six-month, four-day workweek study involving 72 enterprises yielded some interesting findings: 86 percent of companies responding to the midpoint check-in survey said they were very likely to continue using the four-day workweek model. This survey revealed the trial to be an overall success.
Based on how many companies responded positively at the midway point of the experiment, it appears that this new arrangement was a success. Despite missing a workday, numerous benefits compensated for that difference. Employees showed signs of improved mental health, greater productivity, and sharper creativity. Any business would love to see such growth in its team members, but changing an institution as established as the five-day workweek won’t be easy, culturally or logistically.
So, how does your organization get there? Let's take a closer look at the preparation and tools necessary to make it happen.
3 Key Steps to Implement a 4-Day Workweek
- Develop a clear plan.
- Facilitate asynchronous communication.
- Measure your success.
Employee Burnout Saps Productivity
Covid-19’s drastic alterations to work environments and processes wreaked havoc on employee experiences and their mental health. Employee mental health influences their success and satisfaction in the workplace. So, a positive work environment increases productivity and makes employees happier.
A four-day workweek is proving to be a great way to improve mental health and employee experience, benefitting both individuals and businesses. Surprisingly, even during the trial implementation of a four-day workweek noted in the study above, office productivity and employee well-being increased significantly. By having an extended weekend, employees can use the extra time to rest, relax, and recharge, leading to improved work-life balance. In addition, the shorter workweek can help to reduce stress, as employees are able to focus on fewer tasks in a more efficient amount of time.
The Shortened Week Is Good for Everyone
The upsides of a four-day workweek are clearest on Mondays following a long weekend when rejuvenated creativity and mental vitality are high. Providing employees with an extra day each week to pursue their hobbies, explore new interests, or simply relax will help reverse the growing decline in employee mental health.
A four-day workweek also minimizes burnout. With more time for leisure and creative opportunities, employees will feel prepared to be productive during the whole workweek. Even with a reduction in working hours from 40 to 32, employees at 49 percent of the organizations surveyed in the U.K. claimed that their productivity had grown, while 46 percent believed that their output had remained the same. Employees felt equally as productive as they would have with a conventional five-day workweek and were able to complete their assignments in a shorter amount of time. The benefit to both employers and employees was clear: greater job and life satisfaction without diminished performance.
1. Develop a Clear Plan
Preparation is important for developing a successful four-day workweek program. Establishing responsibilities and expectations for each employee across the organization is key. One of the first tasks as part of a successful plan is communicating with customers and staff about the intricacies of the four-day workweek and how it will influence everyday operations. All processes benefit from proper planning and prioritization, especially when various teams must address their objectives and the new time constraints.
Those that interact directly with clients or provide customer support may need to execute the four-day workweek in a different way. For example, altering work hours and days off throughout the week to satisfy customer needs may be necessary. Regardless, maintaining and prioritizing the customer and client experience must remain the focus. Organizations can ensure that there is always a team member available to assist customers by shifting the designated day off for half of the customer-facing team members.
For overall program success, however, every employee, regardless of position, must adhere to the 32-hour workweek rule. If managers don’t comply, employees feel obligated to work on their allotted off day. To ensure that the four-day workweek program is successful, there should be a clear understanding of the expectations and associated responsibilities of each employee. Organizations must provide training and resources to ensure that employees feel empowered to execute the program while also measuring and assessing the program’s success periodically to ensure that the four-day workweek is having the desired impact.
2. Facilitate Asynchronous Communication
To keep on top of all responsibilities and deliverables throughout the reduced workweek, teams must maintain productive and regular communication. Platforms like Asana and Microsoft To-Do that track assignments and project deadlines would be of considerable value to teams with strict deadlines. These are especially useful when a department's responsibilities are divided, as managers can identify where assistance is needed or if adjustments are necessary.
By using collaboration tools and virtual conferencing, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, team members can be most productive. Collaboration and communication are of the utmost importance when implementing new formats or changes to a workplace. The deployment of leading-edge tools that track deliveries and modifications can effectively meet the requirements of each team as well as guide the additional tools needed for the best results. In the end, the success of the four-day workweek and the achievement of organizational objectives is highly dependent on the availability of technology that facilitates agility, time savings, real-time collaboration, and communication.
3. Measure Your Success
Measuring productivity and employee response is important when conducting experiments like this because you can use anything you learn through the assessments to enhance future results. You can implement various software solutions to collect feedback, whether through survey technologies, one-on-one interactions, or by tracking employee hours. For instance, if you find that staff members continue to work on their allocated days off, you know you need to incorporate more delegation or management intervention. Many forms of input are valuable to improve future practices in any trials or deployments.
The Future of the Four-Day Workweek
Although the four-day workweek is clearly effective, most organizations have yet to fully embrace it. Office work culture continues to evolve in response to the rapidly changing environment surrounding it, however. As more organizations adopt a four-day workweek, additional lessons and insights will emerge. It may be necessary to update or adjust the four-day workweek based on the needs of a given organization.
Therefore, employee involvement at every level is key. Feedback can be transformed into data that will ensure the model is beneficial for all stakeholders. In some cases, the model will need to be significantly altered if workers or company leaders do not find it to be effective. Maintaining employee satisfaction and mental health should always be a top priority. This includes taking suggestions from employees. The four-day workweek can alter global operations in a positive way with careful logistical planning, the right tools, and clear communication.