3 Reasons To Pay Attention To The Four-Day Work Week Trend
By Mollie Leal
As the post-pandemic work landscape continues to steer conversations around virtual and hybrid work environments, return to office policies, and employee retention & recruitment – now the four-day work week is gaining attention as businesses, globally, integrate a new way of working. From manufacturing businesses, to banks, data analysts, and other service-focused companies, many types of companies are exploring non-traditional work formats to increase staff productivity and improve work-life balance.
The concept of a four-day work week has been around for longer than many may think, even mentioned by Vice President Richard M. Nixon as reported by the New York Times in 1956. After the coronavirus pandemic forced a mass shift to fully remote and hybrid work formats, and teams proved they could work productively outside of a traditional in-office setup, now many businesses have the momentum to question other aspects of work.
Here are three reasons to pay attention to the four-day work week trend (and why we’re talking about it at Double Forte):
1. Economic Shifts Affect Workplace Needs
As the cost of living in the U.S. continues to rise, businesses and employees are in need of flexible alternatives to meet the rising costs of necessities such as childcare, groceries, gas for commuting and more. The appeal of the four-day work week, and other non-traditional work formats, is that a flexible work schedule allows employees to save dollars typically spent on caring for children during work hours or gas spent commuting to work and other expenses.
Today, progressive businesses need more than a ‘working from home’ policy to attract and retain staff. Businesses with additional perks, such a four-day work week format, become more appealing to potential recruits – supporting the company’s bottom line as well. The four-day work week trend is calling on companies to ask how they can further support their employees during an ever changing economic climate.
2. Flexibility Is The Name Of The Game
While the news cycle is excited about covering businesses integrating pilot four-day work week programs and their success stories, it’s important to note that the new system does not work for all. As reported by Raconteur, RedSprout Media shifted back to a five-day week after a trial period with the new schedule. The four-day work week proved too inflexible for the company’s needs – propelling the company to instead offer more flexible options within the five-day week. In short, the four-day work week did not support RedSprout employees who are productive at different times of the day, depending on their work styles and/or family or personal obligations. Instead, the company decided to allow its employees to work at a time that worked best for them in the hope of gaining productivity and happier, healthier team members. No more traditional 9-to-5 boundaries. So far so good.
As some employees are returning to the office, many want to ensure the gains they made working from home during the pandemic don’t get lost. The answer doesn’t need to be the four-day work week format, but can instead integrate more flexibility where your team needs. Business Insider shared that CEO of the 4 Day Week campaign Charlotte Lockhart wants businesses to stop looking at a four-day week as an extra day off work. Instead, it’s an opportunity for organizations to find new ways to reduce working hours without cutting pay.
3. Open New Pathways To Success
Ultimately, the four-day work week is calling companies and leadership to question the status quo of traditional work formats and create new pathways to success. Are you thinking about integrating a new system with your team? Our advice is to conduct multiple pre and post-program surveys to take the temperature of your team, outline what success looks like for the company, and decide the non-negotiable boundaries your company or team needs to continue to deliver results. Create a trial period with the new program. Then be clear about pilot expectations and keep an open conversation with your team.