November 1, 2021
For years, many companies have offered flexible hours and the results have proven positive. Studies have shown that flexible work schedules boosts productivity and employee morale, increasing employee retention significantly. But beyond flexible scheduling, four-day workweeks seems to be the buzz, with so many companies contemplating it or trialing it.
Research shows that moving to four-day workweeks can reduce overhead costs – electricity usage, office supplies, printing and copying. If you are customer-based, customer satisfaction is obviously a high priority. Four-day workweek may impact customer satisfaction and client needs, so companies have worked around this issue by alternating employee schedules. A recent study showed that 74% of office workers who were surveyed said they would love four-day workweeks. They cited reasons such as daycare costs, caring for elderly parents, and chronic illnesses making it difficult to travel or sit for long periods. Another study of companies that have switched report that overall, they experience a 60% higher productivity rate and increased employee satisfaction. Employees are taking fewer sick days and are generally more productive.
If you’re contemplating this for your company, here are a few things to keep in mind:
You can either take off one day of the week and continue to pay hourly employees for 40 hours or you can extend each day to 10-hour days (compressed workweek). Either way, it’s imperative that you be clear what your intention is (less burnout, high productivity, etc.). For more information, check out Andrew Barnes’ book, The 4 Day Week: How the Flexible Work Revolution Can Increase Productivity, Profitability and Wellbeing, and Help Create a Sustainable Future. Barnes is the founder of a financial services company that switched his company to a four-day week in 2018 while maintaining employees’ pay.
Lean on your HR department to find out overtime laws in your state. Policies such as leave, benefits, and time off should be clearly discussed. Also, consider the effect a 4-day workweek will have on part-time employees.
Top management needs to announce a new policy statement, ideally the CEO. At that point is when expected results should be discussed. With any change, it is important to educate and train your management teams so that there is a smooth transition.
During the trial, evaluate the productivity effects and expectations to see if it is conducive. By reducing the number of days we work, maybe we could get back to the forgotten ways of family and values. Parents would have more time to spend on home life rather than the opposite.
We interviewed Lindsay McCutchen, CEO of Career Start. Here’s what she had to say.
What is your viewpoint on four-day work weeks? Do you think you’ll ever adopt this?
“The idea of four-day workweeks and what people are suggesting it would accomplish in terms of flexibility and work-life balance is good; however, it may not be possible for all industries right away.
The concept might sound easy, but some companies would have to make major adjustments to make that happen, specifically manufacturing where they are used to running production 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They would have to realign all the different schedules. It would be a huge undertaking for companies to accomplish that.
Another part of that is to think about if we as customers are we ready for all businesses to move to a 4-day workweek? In this country, consumers are used to getting information/services right away. They want immediate results at the touch of their fingertips. It is quite possible that we will run into some service issues with a shorter work week. It’s not to say that companies shouldn’t implement some flexibility in other ways. Companies are getting creative because they need to. Many are looking at using technology as a way to increase productivity. Changing from the 9-5, 40-hour work week and offering employees options like work from home and flex status is another way to help employees achieve a work life balance.”
Four-day workweeks and flexible hours have been said to help with overall mental health, being that people have an extra day to themselves or more time to do what they love.