As organisations around the world continue to adopt flexible working practices as employees increasingly demand more control over their schedule, questions about the best way to structure a work week has become central to the HR Policies.
It is not just about saving money or time – it is about improving productivity and overall employee wellbeing.
The first experiment was carried out by Microsoft back in 2013, and the results were impressive. The employees worked fewer days but were paid the same amount in salary.
The company did this because they wanted to see if people would be more productive, happier, and more engaged if they had the time off on Friday. They took a group of employees who were already working 40 hours per week (or fewer) and asked them to work four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. They also added a monthly bonus program for those who worked extra hard during their 40 hours.
The results? Employees reported feeling happier at work, as well as less stressed about balancing their personal lives with their jobs. Furthermore, Microsoft saw increased productivity without sacrificing quality of output or employee health!
The Company also saw similar results when it repeated the experiment again in 2016 with its Japanese colleagues. This time, it also saw energy savings of 23% and reduced business costs by 40%.
As a business leader, you may be contemplating “Is this right for my business? What can I do?” Well, the first step is to talk about it. Set aside some time with your team to discuss this approach or at least test out a pilot program for one department or a team of employees.
That being said, consider these things before jumping on the bandwagon:
What are The Advantages?
According to the recent data, employees’ flexibility, output, and happiness increased. Teams were more productive and came up with creative solutions to challenges and felt like they have free time to pursue a hobby or develop new skills.
People managers, in particular, saw a greater increase in productivity and happiness when measured by job descriptions than individual workers. It had become a win-win situation as output increased and employees had more flexibility with their work-life balance.
What are The Concerns for Consideration?
Despite the favourable comments, additional data points sparked doubts. During the 4-day workweek trial, employees reported a 27% increase in stress levels, which is an unexpected outlier given the gains in flexibility, productivity, and happiness.
How is it possible that stress levels could rise along with optimism and adaptability? It turns out employees had concerns about completing tasks within a shorter time frame.
Another key consideration is suitability for small businesses. While in principle, the concept of a 4-day work week is beneficial, it may be challenging for small businesses with a smaller team size to adapt.
In the end, it is important to remember that this is just one way for companies to try and improve their workplace. The most important thing is to find what works for your business and your team.