A 4 Day Work Week, For Real?
Is the four-day workweek finally going to become a reality?
If you’ve ever pondered why the work week is five days and the weekend is only two, the good news is that you’re not alone – your employer has probably thought about it as well.
“Before the pandemic, a lot of companies were weighing the costs and benefits of remote working to switching to a four-day workweek but never took the next step,” said Patrick Moraites, a partner and VP of business development for Tampa-based Axis Group. “However, now that employers have seen that their teams can still be productive outside of a traditional five-day work schedule, this topic is very much back on the table for larger organizations that have teams that support and back-up one another.”
In fact, earlier this year, the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global launched a six-month initiative aimed at testing – you guessed it – the feasibility of implementing a four-day workweek. Nearly 40 companies across the U.S. and Canada are taking part in this year’s program, including the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. During the program, these businesses will participate in workshops to help them determine more efficient work strategies and will be paired with a mentor organization that has already made the shift to a four-day workweek. Boston College researchers will work alongside the companies to evaluate their productivity and check in on how the change is impacting their employees.
If prior research is any indication, moving to a four-day workweek is likely to benefit both the employees and employers who are participating in the program. According to a recent study by Qualtrics, more than 90 percent of all U.S. employees said they would prefer a four-day workweek because they believe it will boost their mental health and help them be more productive. It’s all about working smarter, not harder, right?
Employers, too, will be getting something out of making the change. Based on 4 Day Week Global’s own research, roughly 63 percent of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a shorter work week and most haven’t missed a beat when it comes to productivity. Additionally, companies are able to save money on utilities and supplies because employees aren’t constantly in the office.
“It’s becoming more and more clear that a four-day week makes sense for a lot of organizations,” Moraites said. “The key lies in implementing it correctly and being transparent so everyone is on the same page.”
If you’re considering moving to a four-day workweek, here are a few of the questions you need to discuss with your leadership team:
- How will we compensate our employees? Most companies in the 4 Day Week Global program have reduced their workweeks to 32 hours while continuing to pay their employees as though they were working a regular 40 hour week. However, some companies may be more comfortable opting for a more traditional 4/10 schedule. While there is no right or wrong answer here, it’s important to be clear about the hours you expect your employees to work so there isn’t any confusion or resentment between them. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re the only one contributing!
- What does scheduling look like? It’s tempting to make a blanket schedule that gives everyone Mondays or Fridays off but depending on the industry you’re in, that may not be possible. Companies that want to go the four-day route will need to do a full evaluation of their service offerings to determine their staffing needs for each day of the week in each department. Then, they should encourage feedback from their team members to create a schedule that is fair and equitable to everyone. It may take a little experimenting in order to nail down the logistics but the long-term payoffs can be huge.
- How will we communicate? Many companies have grown accustomed to using technology to stay in touch with remote team members. However, dropping down to a four-day week could potentially cause some tasks to slip through the cracks if information isn’t shared properly. By setting up very specific communication protocols and channels and outlining who is available and when, employees and employers can stay on top of the status of their projects and ensure they’re doing what is necessary to get them done. Plus, it keeps everyone on the team accountable to one another and to the work.
- How will we know if this new system is working? Once a company finally transitions to a four-day workweek, their leadership team may think “our work here is done!” However, that may not always be the case. If projects start to fall behind schedule or customer service is taking a hit because there’s no one around to answer questions, it may be time to re-evaluate whether a four-day workweek is the right strategy. The good news, though, is that data can also help affirm that the company’s productivity isn’t being affected by the shorter week (and if it is, it’s for the better). By monitoring your metrics, you can stay on top of how your company is performing and make adjustments when necessary.
These are just a few of the things that need to be explored before shifting to a four-day week and yes, it can be complicated. Fortunately, there is help out there and it can be as simple as hiring a PEO.
PEOs, also known as Professional Employer Organizations, are single source providers of integrated services that allow business owners to outsource a number of their administrative, human resources, payroll and other employee-related functions. Because PEOs are experts in all matters related to employment, they have the knowledge and experience to help companies navigate the implementation of a four-day workweek – and avoid the most common and costly pitfalls.
“This is definitely an area where you don’t want to go it alone,” Moraites said. “Working with a PEO will set you up for success and who doesn’t want that?”
If you’re curious about how a PEO can help your team transition to a four-day workweek, the team at Axis Group can walk you through the process step by step. Contact us today by clicking here.