Up Rising’s thoughts on the four-day working week.
You may have read that companies across the UK and Ireland are trialling a four-day working week.
The aim? To measure whether employees can operate at 100% productivity even when they work for 20% less time and with no reduction in pay. As more countries across Europe engage in similar trials, at Up Rising we have been looking at the evidence (and our experience) to advise our clients whether to join the movement.
Since the start of the pandemic, working from home has become ubiquitous, with many seeing the benefits of having time at home to pause and re-consider their work-life balance. Working from home has bought us more time – swapping the daily commute with an hour or two to instead enjoy nature, family or hobbies. Without a doubt, the 4-day working week brings these same benefits to mind.
Up Rising MD Natalie Hall was a 4 day a week M&A Partner for a period of 3 years at Deloitte. She notes that:
Whilst it was challenging logistically to be “off” every Wednesday it did allow me to have a pause in the week to catch-up on life and spend quality time with the boys. This at the time meant the world to me.
The benefits from a personal perspective are clear. But what about the challenges? It’s also clear that to deliver on the same targets as previously achieved in 5 days, productivity is key. Plus, when working with external partners not on the same schedule, communication is imperative. When working a 4-day week, Natalie had to be:
Ruthlessly efficient and constantly remind people that I wasn’t available for meetings/calls on a Wednesday, but it did work.
Despite some adjustments to working practices, the shorter working week brings more benefits than drawbacks for workers – with reduced stress, increased motivation and an improved work-life balance. Forward thinking companies with wellbeing high on the agenda will no doubt be monitoring the results of the 4-day week trials across Europe. However, we don’t need to wait for the shorter week to bring about positive change for our employees.
You can act now to improve your employee’s productivity, loyalty and happiness – by focusing on their output.
At Up Rising we have long advocated for our clients to shift their focus from hours in the office to actual work output. When employees are offered greater flexibility and freedom over how they use their time, both research and practice tell us that they feel their work and time is valued, leading to increased loyalty and better team engagement.
As Up Rising MD Phanella Fine notes:
We consistently see clients that move from measuring hours to output and factor flexibility into their working cultures end up with happier employees, better retention and higher levels of creativity and innovation overall.
So what approach should you take in your business? There’s no need to wait for the results of these trials to begin to take action. If you would like help assessing your organisation’s culture do not hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.