Business transitioning to a 4-day week? Consider 5 elements vital for success

OPINION by Jonathan Perumal >>

SUPPORT IS GROWING for the wider adoption of a four-day work week in Australia, meaning it is time for businesses to consider making the change, for the benefit of both organisations and workers.

Less stress on workers without cuts to productivity. That’s according to 95 percent of organisations that participated in 4 Day Work Week Global’s six-month Australasian pilot program. About 96 percent of employees who took part expressed a desire to continue working a four-day week.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done. Moving to a four-day work week is not just about adopting a new schedule; it requires a reimagination of the entire work experience for both businesses and staff, keeping the experience of workers front of mind throughout the process.

There are several considerations for business to keep in mind in figuring out how to make the shift to a shorter week without harming productivity. When done correctly, this shift can provide many benefits for employees, and ultimately, for businesses too. 

Benefits of shifting to a shorter work week

A four-day work week can lead to lower stress for workers and boost productivity levels for businesses, among other positive outcomes.

Reduced stress levels can uplift the mental and physical health of employees and increase their job satisfaction. With a shorter work week, they are less likely to feel burnt out and can consequently concentrate more during work hours. A four-day work week can foster a more focused and productive work environment, as there is a greater need to focus on tasks, decreasing the urge to get side-tracked.

Hours worked by an employee as a defining means of indicating productivity originated during the industrial revolution and, for knowledge workers, it’s time for work environments to evolve from this as an indicator of productivity. About 58 percent of respondents to Adaptavist’s recent survey believe that the true measure of productivity instead lies in the quality of work produced.

Fewer days in the work week means people gain more time to spend with their families and friends, pursue hobbies, or take care of personal responsibilities such as medical appointments – as a result, businesses may see less cases of employee absenteeism.

Employees who feel they have a better work-life balance are often more satisfied with their jobs and are more motivated to excel in their careers, which in turn improves employee morale and retention rates for businesses.

For businesses operating internationally, shifting to a four-day work week can help to address unique requirements involved with managing a remote and dispersed workforce.

A four-day work week can be a unique selling point for businesses, helping them to attract and retain employees who value work-life balance and a flexible schedule. However, it is a significant undertaking.

Factors to consider when transitioning to a four-day week

Businesses will reap the most benefit from a four-day work week by carefully considering how it will impact their operations, including the total number of hours worked in a week, workloads, and the impact on clients and customer service.

Here are the top five considerations:

  1. Hours. A key step in cutting down the number of days employees work is determining expectations for work hours in a shorter week. For example, will they remain at 40 hours per week, or should they be shortened to 32? Country-specific working laws will need to be considered when setting these standards.
  1. Workloads. To guarantee the benefits of four-day work week, such as reduced stress, staff workloads should not be increased to compensate for a shorter week – there is a delicate balance between maintaining deadlines and overburdening workers.
  1. Coverage. Cross-training and strategically scheduling work ensures effective support for clients and employees, helping departments to adequately service their respective areas and ensure that critical tasks and responsibilities are still covered every day of the week. Businesses may need to hire more employees to fill gaps or upgrade their technology to assist with employees’ new scheduling requirements.
  1. Communication. By developing a thorough communication plan before announcing the shift to a shorter week, businesses will be better equipped to communicate to employees the changes involved with the shift, what it entails, and how it will impact their daily routines. Once they are introduced, getting feedback from workers on the changes ensures that they are beneficial for all involved.
  1. Customer impact. Similarly, a thorough analysis of the effects on customer satisfaction and customer service is essential for success, as is communicating the changes with customers. An assessment on any upfront costs associated with a four-day work week should also be undertaken.

A four-day work week can positively impact business productivity and boost workforce morale. However, it is important to carefully consider how the shift will be rolled out to ensure it occurs as seamlessly as possible.

About Jonathan Perumal

Jonathan Perumal is the country manager for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) at Safeguard Global, helping ANZ companies hire talent anywhere in the world, quickly and compliantly. Mr Perumal has worked for a several fast-growth tech companies including Salesforce, Success Factors, OneLogin, Workday, and Q-CTRL over the past two decades and joined Safeguard Global last year following its expansion into ANZ. He is described as a passionate customer-focused leader with a track record of driving revenue and building strong team, client, and business partner relationships. Mr Perumal has worked with cross functional units to drive business improvement through system optimisation and sales process improvement and his insights into productive  workplace transformation are keenly sought.




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