Research conducted over last three years shows that just over half of UK workers (51%) want to work a four-day work week – favouring the idea of working longer hours Monday to Thursday and taking Friday to Sunday off.
The modern workplace has seen a shift in values. Where output was once the focal point, today’s employers prioritise mental health, happiness and a healthy work-life balance – all of which help to boost workplace productivity naturally. In light of this, Instant Offices have considered the impact a four-day work week can have on employees and how businesses can implement shorter weeks without disrupting workflow.
How working patterns differ
Multiple countries have already embraced the concept of a four-day week, and many European countries also have some of the shortest average working hours a week worldwide, with the shortest as follows:
- France: 28.50
In the US, workers tend to work longer hours on average than their continental counterparts; however, some companies are starting to recognise the benefits of a four-day working week. Since 2016 Amazon, for example, has offered some of its employees the chance to work a 30-hour week.
The biggest distractions
According to a study in 2017, the average employee spends a mere two hours and 53 minutes per day working productively. When looking at the most significant distractions, almost half admitted checking social media was a big distraction, while almost one in five said looking for a new job often took priority. Workers also rated the following as the top 10 activities as the most disrupting:
Checking social media – 47%
Reading news websites – 45%
Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 38%
Making hot drinks – 31%
Smoking breaks – 28%
Text/instant messaging – 27%
Eating snacks – 25%
Making food in office – 24%
Making calls to partner/ friends- 24%
- Searching for new jobs – 19%
Benefits of a four-day work week
A recent trial at one firm found that switching to a four-day week increased productivity by 20%, while also improving staff wellbeing.
Productivity: Employees become more productive during office hours, as they work to compensate for the lost day.
Efficiency: Employees spend less time on inefficient tasks like meetings and waste less time taking breaks or browsing social media.
Engagement: Workers feel less stressed and can enjoy a better work-life balance, which makes them more engaged.
Teamwork: Teams work better together as they chase a common goal, improving their efficiency so everyone can enjoy an extra day of rest.
- Savings: If all employees are out of the office one day a week, overheads like electricity decrease by 20%.
Smarter ways to implement a four-day work week
Working fewer days, and shorter hours, may not seem like a practical idea, but there are a few ways that a four-day week can be executed in a company that disrupt workflow.
Reducing working hours gradually by two, then half a day, before removing a full day altogether can also help ease employees into a reduction in days.
Think about flexible options
In instances where employees don’t want to work less hours, as it will result in a pay drop, offering flexible working options such as working remotely can be a happy compromise. If there is no way the whole office can be out on the same day, there is always the possibility to rotate schedules, having half the team off on Friday and the other off on Monday; ensuring people are always on site five days a week.
Maximise efficiency and track productivity
Using automation with simpler tasks can help streamline processes and free up time, while using time-tracking and product management tools can help ensure other tasks aren’t slipping – the idea here is not to micromanage, but to make sure that time is well-spent.
Make sure everyone is on board with the new model and hours and encourage feedback on the hours. Ensure employees know that their suggestions on what can be done to improve things are taken under consideration.
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