Could the next step in the future of work be a four-day workweek instead of hybrid telework?
Some employers have had positive results with the experiment. For example, social media company Buffer reported at the end of last year that 91% of its employees said they were happier and more productive working a four-day week.
Of course, shifts in policy and culture are in order before attempting a trial run.
What it takes to switch to 4-day workweek
Among the adjustments that may need to be made:
- cutting back on meetings (e.g. switching weekly check-ins to monthly)
- changing deadlines to align with the new schedule
- relying more on artificial intelligence and machine learning tech
- closer monitoring of customer satisfaction, and
- identifying employees who aren’t eligible to work a four-day week (e.g., customer service).
The Miami-based Hamptons Group LLC has had a four-day workweek since 2019. In a Forbes.com post, the firm’s chairman and managing director, Jeff Bartel, wrote that the reduced overhead (e.g., electricity, office supplies and cafeteria costs), increased efficiency, and improved employee health and wellness has been worth it.
But the success of the four-day week depends on your entire team’s willingness to be flexible as new specific needs for your organization arise, Bartel said.
For instance, what kind of four-day workweek makes the most sense? Is it one where operations close for 72 continuous hours? Or a flex four-day workweek, where employees choose which four days of the week to work?
Buffer tried the latter, but it didn’t work out because communication between departments suffered. The company decided to make its weekend Friday through Sunday.
Bartel added that it’s important to promote work-life balance without compressed schedules, where people attempt to cram a 40-hour workweek into fewer days. Ten-hour workdays carry too much of a risk for employee burnout, he said.