There’s been a lot of buzz in the business community over the past several years about the exact number of hours that you should be spending at your desk. Everything from shorter days to more breaks has been tossed on the table. Nothing that I’ve found, however, comes close in terms of positive data or controversial viewpoints to the four day work week.
Here’s the Perks
It’s hard to argue that a four day work week comes with perks. It’s way too easy for “life” and “balance” to get lost when you’re talking about work/life balance. All too often, work continues to bleed over into employee family time, free time, and days off.
Working a five day work week with a traditional weekend, one day generally ends up devoted to errands and household tasks, leaving only one day per week for rest, leisure, and family activities. When employees are working four days a week-let’s say, for example, Monday through Thursday-they have one day to knock out their to-do list and two more to enjoy the rest of their life!
The argument can also be made that working a four day week drives employees to focus, prioritize, and avoid procrastination. When you know you’re going to be stuck at your desk from 9-5 Monday through Friday, it’s tempting to push difficult tasks to middle of the week. When you know you only have four days to accomplish everything you’re going to accomplish that week, with the long weekend dangling like a carrot in front of your nose, you’re more likely to put your nose to the grindstone and get it done!
There’s also the fact that by Friday, you’re tired. Getting up in the morning is hard, getting going after that second cup of coffee is hard, and convincing yourself to do work instead of watch the clock tick down is hard. Your mind and body can only take so much!
Cutting the work week down to four days will help you find balance and improve productivity by giving your body time to rest, relax and come into the next week ready to go!
Then there’s employee satisfaction and its well known but often ignored sister, employee retention. Today’s employees are more technologically and business savvy than ever, and they’re well aware that with the right system in place they can enjoy a work/life balance that guarantees they’re not going to hate their job.
That means that companies that aren’t providing employees with a well balanced work schedule are less likely to keep talent once they’ve acquired it. As a result, their employee pool becomes an endless and incredibly expensive revolving door.
Things to Watch Out For
The four day work week is tremendously beneficial, but only if it’s used properly. Watch out for these potential pitfalls:
- Longer days. This is the most common when you’re talking about shortening the work week. Part of making the week shorter is decreasing distraction and limiting work to fit inside the smaller window. If you’re still working the same number of hours each week, but you’re cramming them into four days instead of five, you’re going to exceed your mind’s threshold for quality work and turn yourself into a high functioning zombie.
- Inadequate service provision. If you’re working for a company that needs to provide services 5-7 days a week, a revolving schedule might suit you better than simply shutting your doors for an extra day. This was something the state of Utah discovered when closing offices on Friday resulted in an excessive number of customer complaints when they weren’t able to access necessary electrical services.
Used properly, the four day work week is an incredible tool to boost employee satisfaction and productivity in one easy swoop. What can the four day work week do for your organization?