Everybody loves a three-day weekend, but would you if you had one every week? Pretty often, many employees feel like they’re just spending too much time at their desk: they’re crazy busy, going nonstop, having way too many cups of coffee a day, giving everything they have inside them to get some ‘office glory’ and possibly a promotion. So yeah, the easy answer to our question would be ‘YES’.
But there’s more to consider! Between this “mad race” and retiring to Hawaii, there’s a saner middle ground – a scenario in which people’s work lives are far less “busy” and far more productive. Where people spend less time plowing through checklists and more time-solving problems creatively for the joy and sense of accomplishment this brings.
About this, psychologist Dan Ariely cites the example of Google, whose engineers are free to use 20% of their work week (one full day) anyway they want. Google’s betting that its highly creative employees will devote at least some of that time to projects that benefit the company. An even surer bet is that they’ll be working hard – in the best sense of the phrase – the other 80% of their time, happy to invest their energy in a company that respects their autonomy and views them not only as employees but as people.
And what’s the significance of this? Well, the work week could be drastically shortened without painfully reducing workers’ standards of living!
This way, every employee would have more time to do lots of things, some directly work-related, some not, but all likely to improve the quality of our working lives. In fact, humans are not motivated only by money on the one hand and the desire to sunbathe on a beach on the other. Ironically, a shorter “official” work week would likely weaken the defensive barriers many employees erect between work and play, freeing their minds to reach a solution to work-related problems even while sunbathing and to use their time at the office more efficiently and effectively.
So, is it worth considering to introduce a 4-days week to your office? The answer really depends on your business’ needs and your employees’ wants. If you have an employee ask about working a four-day week, it makes sense to look and see if it would work for this person in this position.
For companies curious – yet anxious – about becoming more Google-like, a first step might be to take a hard look at your office culture. Do people seem relaxed and enthusiastic about their jobs? Do they spontaneously share ideas and collaborate informally when problems arise? Or is everybody hunched over his or her respective desk all day, radiating an “I’m working harder than you” aura? All these things need to be taken into consideration before implementing a four-day working week. Human productivity isn’t a simple “numbers game” and every employee need to feel a sense of balance and personal freedom to give his best.
Perhaps try a temporary run for a few months to see how it works out for you! Flexibility is a benefit that many employees look for from an employer, and having this as an option makes you more desirable to many job seekers.
But before you change your company schedule, make sure this will make your business more productive and your employees happier. Otherwise, a four-day workweek is not worth the change!