The needs of today’s society demand the evaluation of many aspects of our normalized working structures. For example, it has been proven through multiple studies that a 4-day working week can boost workers’ productivity significantly, while also improving the work-life balance.
Although enforcing a four-day workweek is not an easy thing to do, many companies are working on adapting their operativity to this working schedule.
In this hyper-connected world, where companies can have their employees working on Sundays or replying to emails at 11 pm, having the possibility to limit the work hours, and set boundaries to the work life is a need. Our current work dynamics will undoubtedly increase our stress levels and dear our productivity, and here is where the 4-day work week becomes so important: we need time to rest, disconnect and invest in our well-being.
The movement of the great resignation and the pandemic recession forced workers to revisit clear working patterns, and for that, they noticed that they might need more spare time so they could commit to their passions, hobbies, and relationships. So, the idea of a four-day work week no longer sounded so far-fetched.
In a four-day work week, individuals work for only the first four days of the week rather than the traditional setup of five and six days. This means that they have more time to invest in their well-being or to address personal issues.
One interesting fact to consider is that the first time that our five-day working week was settled, was on May 1, 1926, by Ford Motor Company. That is to say, we´re working under a structure that has not changed regardless of the progress that our society has had over the past years.
According to research, switching to a four-day workweek can boost productivity, lower costs, improve well-being, help attract and retain talent, and encourage job growth. Let’s deepen on these benefits:
In Iceland, researchers discovered that a four-day workweek with no pay drop enhanced workers’ well-being and productivity. Happier and more fulfilled workers are more focused on their job when they are working. Supporters of this work dynamic have long argued that having workers work four days instead of five enhances productivity, and the evidence to back it up is highly positive.
Employees who work four days a week tend to be happier and more dedicated. As they have plenty of time to rest and recover, employees are less likely to feel pressured or need to take time off for sickness. They feel prepared to take on new tasks when they return to work and are more motivated.
When workers receive more flexibility, they become more autonomous and perform proactively. Models that promote flexibility represent a change in the work mindset, where people are more goal-oriented instead of being focused on the number of hours worked.
One clear example of this is how in the IT sector, asynchronous job mode is becoming frequent these days as it helps businesses increase their conversion rate, and at the same time, the staff can choose their working schedule at their convenience.
A four-day week schedule reduces the risk of mental sickness and burnout. Working under stress can cause burnout, mistakes, and discomfort within companies. So, giving employees a shorter work week will improve their quality of life.
It can be helpful in numerous ways, for example, organizations record a lower absenteeism rate, and employees become easily retained. It is becoming more important to invest in peoples’ health and peace of mind since this will result in a better work-life balance.
Nowadays, as businesses are evolving into more digitized and automated ways, switching to a four-day work routine is becoming more attainable.
Putting such a system in place requires time and attention, all the stakeholders need to be aware of the challenges that will need to be faced to reduce the workweek.
Is mandatory to examine if the same workload can be completed in four days. Evaluating this will let you know if you can transition to this new work schedule now or if you need to make some changes. In the end, employees should feel less stressed and less overwhelmed as a result of a shorter workweek, not more worried.
Also, the nature of each business should be considered, before implementing this new work schedule since this is not a model that fits all businesses and job positions, especially those that have day-to-day customer engagement.
Embracing a four-day work week comes at a cost, and the adaptation might be expensive. Changing the work dynamic might imply investing in consulting, technology, and automatization tools, among other gadgets, which is also a cost the companies need to evaluate.
The concept of 4 days a week, was considered a bit radical, but after the pandemic recession, its acceptance has grown notably across the globe. This is why many countries and companies started testing this scheme.
Our times are changing, our needs are changing, thus: work must also change. Although the four-day working week doesn’t fit every company, we need to start having this type of discussion regarding flexibility, fulfillment, and reinvention in the workplace.
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