The Four Challenges Of The Four Day Work Week & Why It’s Here To Stay

The Four Challenges Of The Four Day Work Week & Why It’s Here To Stay

Donna McGeorge (main photo) is a best-selling author and global authority on productivity. Her book series, It’s About Time, covers meetings, structuring your day, and doing more with less. In this guest post, McGeorge looks at the idea of the four day working week and the challenges it will pose employees and businesses…

Right now, people and organisations are focused on getting back into offices, hybrid arrangements and remote working and with good reason. Creating flexible working arrangements is one of the key factors to be an employer of choice with millennials and generation z.

AirBNB recently announced employees are permanently allowed to live and work from anywhere. They were inundated with applications for roles. This is a big deal if you consider the “great resettlement” that’s happening in the employment market right now.

The four-day or compressed work week is fast emerging as an attraction and retention strategy and if you are a leader, and you are not paying attention to this movement, you should. With many countries trialling it and global organisations piloting compressed or reduced workweeks, there is already ample evidence to support that is can actually make people more productive, and well happy! There are a number of challenges to overcome when it comes to compressed work weeks.

Challenge 1- We cram the same volume of work from 5 days into 4. If you are already struggling with your workload, then doing four days instead of five is going to feel crazy. Something has to give.

Challenge 2 – We don’t change our work practices. Days of back-to-back, wasteful meetings will have to be a thing of the past if we are moving to reduced or compressed working weeks. The risk is that we spend our 4 days in meetings, and then our so called day off catching up on our “real” work.

Challenge 3 – We have an all or nothing approach. Not every organisation, function or team is suited to 4-day work weeks. It’s important to consider the work to be done and the right cadence of activity for that.

Challenge 4 – It comes at a cost. If you need a five or even seven day coverage for your business, this will likely mean more employees to cover the hours.

How do you overcome these challenges? Do you go all in and learn as you go? Or do you try and plan everything out to the nth degree? Most successful implementations have run a trial or pilot and then expanded from there.  Microsoft in Japan, Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand and Shopify in Canada extended initial trials with great effect.

You could also dip your toe in with “summer hours” which is how Basecamp in the US trialled it when, during the summer months, no-one worked on a Friday. In all cases, productivity increased, some by as much as 40 per cent and stress and burnout decreased significantly. This new way of working is coming, and you need to get ahead of the curve.

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Donna McGeorge

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