4-day Work Week Experiment Success
The five day work week is, for the most part, standard for all industries. That paradigm has been challenged and the results are in.
Perpetual Guardian, a company in New Zealand, noticed its productivity slipping. In attempt to change that, the company opted to experiment with a shortened work week.
For two months the firm, which manages trusts, wills, and estates, allowed employees to work four days a week instead of the typical five. Their pay stayed the same during the experiment.
After the trial was ended, Perpetual Guardian reported staff stress levels fell 7%. Before the trial, 54% of employees said they could manage the work-life balance. Following the experiment, that number jumped up to 78%.
Performance didn’t suffer either. Team engagement metrics including leadership, commitment, stimulation, and empowerment all saw post-trial climbs.
|2017 Survey||Post Experiment|
Outside of work, employees noted other benefits. Some said they had more time to participate in family life. Other areas of benefits included the ability to restore, reconnect, explore, and imagine.
Researches from the University of Auckland Business School and the Auckland University of Technology were in charge of the study around the trial.
As part of the study employees were also asked to complete surveys before and after the trial.
Teams at Perpetual Guardian were given a month to prepare for the experiment. Each put productivity measures in place before the experiment began. It’s believed this planning phase had a beneficial impact on the experiment. Employees implemented new ways to be more efficient in the workplace. Efficiencies included automating manual processes, shorter and more focused meetings, combining meal breaks with work tasks, and getting rid of non-work related internet use.
There was also an uptick in teamwork and collaboration as employees felt a mutual willingness to help each other out.
As a result of the trial, Perpetual Guardian CEO Andrew Barnes has recommended to its board that the four-day work week be made permanent.
Implementing the Flexible Work Week
Today’s global marketplace operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and while a 4-day work week sounds fantastic, it’s not applicable for all industries.
Consider, instead, a flexible work week strategy.
Flexible schedules allow for employees to handle work tasks when they need to be handled.
What if one of your customers posts a scandalous tweet on your company’s page at 1 am? Unless there is someone that can handle conflict resolution immediately, there can be a serious amount of damage caused in the time it takes someone to respond. When your employee arrives at the office at 9 am and gets done with their morning coffee run, more than 8 hours have already passed. Instead of one scandalous tweet tarnishing your company’s social reputation, there are now hundreds. This could have easily been avoided if your employee had the freedom to work when work needed to be done.
In addition to possibly saving your reputation, flexible schedules allow your employees to be more productive.
There have been numerous studies showing productivity plummets around the 5-6 hour marks. Humans are not wired to be glued to a chair with their eyes on a screen for most of their waking hours. Breaks and short bursts of work have been shown to increase total productivity levels. Some employees are far more productive in the morning, while others may operate best in the evening. Imagine how much more can be accomplished if your employees could work when they are performing at their best.
Working remotely also allows employees to take care of their personal affairs. Because of this, when it comes time for work tasks, they can be fully focused on what they are doing instead of wondering when they might be able to fit in time to finally mop their floors. This option also takes away the need for a commute. By the time your employee arrives to start their work day, they may have already spent what would have been their most productive time of the day battling traffic. By eliminating this stressful, tedious, and often expensive part of the day, employees can put that energy into their duties and help your company succeed.
If you could allow the majority of your roles to work remotely, think about how much money you could save on office space, office furniture, and coffee. With all of those savings, you could re-invest in better products and experiences to make your customers happy.
Increasingly, employees want – and expect flexible work.
Rohit Singh, Executive Director of Talent Development for Yale New Haven Health sees this as the new reality of work.
“The work that you do can spill over and the boundaries between personal and professional space will become less and less structured. Even today, the days that I work from home, I use my own technology to access our network, but I am able to do my work as if I were in the office. Even our phones allow us to move over and access the same information,” Singh said. “As an employee, I use multiple devices to get things done. For the employees, there needs to be an allowance of constant connectivity and the access of information at a click of a button. Look at the Uber app. You can click a button and you know when you will be picked up and who will be picking you up. It’s so constant and seamless. People are expecting the same things from the organizations that they work for.”
If you want engaged employees, to meet your customers where they are, and to save on overhead costs, consider adding flexible work to your organization.
As already mentioned, these concepts won’t work for all companies in every industry. It’s important, however, to listen to your employees. And it’s worth an experiment. If it doesn’t work, you continue as normal until a new idea presents itself. But if it works, you may see an impact on employees that could increase the bottom line. .