Is a four-day work week right for you and your company? Probably!
We've seen major companies make the switch to a four-day work week. Some Canadian municipalities have reduced government workers' days by one. And some U.S. Congress members have introduced legislation to enact four-day work week incentives.
But is there a good enough reason to drop one day a week from our schedules? If you're self-employed, what's stopping you? Is anyone lucky enough to have a boss willing to make the switch?
A recent survey by recruitment agency Robert Half Canada found 91% of senior managers across a variety of organizations with more than 20 employees were in favour of "some type" of a four-day work week.
Of the 1,449 managers surveyed, 45% supported the idea of a four-day work week with alternating days off, only 31% of managers answered yes, suggesting that a "long weekend" type model would be more popular.
I'm really performance outcome-based. I'm not attached to specific hours within my company; I'm more attached to when we can get the work done. In my mind, whether it's 8 hours or 10, company goals should come down to productivity. Because people have lives and families, four day work weeks offer flexibility and better work-life balance.
What I've found in talking to clients is that the extra day off lets people feel like they have recovery time. If they get Friday off, they get to do the grocery shopping, they have time to make their dentist or doctors appointments, and run around.
Robert Half, in a different survey, found 70% of workers "would be willing to put in four 10-hour work days in exchange for an additional day off each week" to have an extra day at home and more work-life balance.
One of my clients says Fridays are her day to clean the house, do the laundry, and then have her afternoon off. She has the kids home for the weekend and instead of running around doing chores, she really gets to invest time with them. However, we must acknowledge that 10-hour workdays can add stress for some parents, especially working mothers and single parents who have to combat daycare hours, after-school pickups, and dinner times.
A fellow business coach and Master Certified Coach, Ann Farrell, recently wrote that productive energy, joy, and rest practices have a dramatic effect on how well we can show up and serve at our best.
We need to be our best in order to do our best. While it's ok to periodically go pedal to the meddle, hair straight back, Mach 3, hair on fire, it should not be an everyday expectation - or a five-day per week expectation, at that.
And in order for companies to be able to make the switch to four days per week, we need to look at inefficiencies and where to improve them.
Josh Bersin wrote that much of the time we spend at work is bogged down with coordination, bureaucracy, and alignment. Every meeting with more than four or five people degrades into an "information session" which can often be replaced by an email, audio message, or video communication.
Some of my clients and colleagues are now using artificial intelligence (AI), Chat GPT. They're using it to help write blogs, post on social media, or do some of their descriptive writing in terms of proposals. Some will say AI is taking away jobs, but ultimately, it's just another tool. It's no different than when Excel spreadsheets came out and we all fell in love with the program. It's why we use technology in everything we do, because it speeds things up and makes it easier for us. That's the whole goal.
Back in 2009, Timothy Ferris wrote a book on escaping the daily 9-to-5, in which he explains how he outsourced certain virtual tasks internationally. The pieces of his working model have shifted greatly since that book came out but the premise is still the same: Delegate. Delete what you don't need to do. Free up your time, because time is the only commodity we don't get back. We get 24 hours in a day and away we go.
I was reminded to delegate (by necessity) during a recent vacation to Mexico. I went to go find a laundromat and discovered, in the area I was in, that those don't exist. There were laundry services, however, and I ended up using one. The place allows you to drop off your laundry and they wash, dry, and fold it for you at a reasonable price (that's great for their local economy, too, by the way). While that's not something we might do in Canada, especially if we have a washer and dryer at home, it showed me how just the weight of laundry can be a lot on your shoulders, even on vacation, let alone when you're working five days a week.
If you have the freedom at the company you're working for, or if you're working for yourself, a four-day work week gives you the opportunity to map out when you are most productive, whether that be work tasks or home tasks, like laundry. If you can schedule your work week accordingly, you're going to have a higher level of satisfaction, higher level of productivity, and a higher level of engagement in your employees, because they are going to feel respected and valued, in addition to enjoying the work that they're doing even more.
If we can switch to a model of productivity/performance, rather than simply punching a clock, it can greatly benefit our company and our employees.