During my recent trip to New Zealand, I met up with the CEO of an organisation that follows a four-day work week.
According to him, after implementing the programme — which many saw as a radical business decision — the productivity level in his organisation actually increased.
What started as an experimentation has now become a viable business model, primarily among some of the European countries.
Less is more
For many organisations, less has indeed become more.
Based on the numerous ongoing discussions I am having, as a professional working towards mental health enhancement, I understand and can state categorically that four-day work weeks do increase productivity.
This is on account of the fact that employees feel happier as well as less stressed when they work shorter hours. There are many research findings that substantiate the fact that productivity levels go up by around 20 per cent.
The findings also highlight the fact that there is also a substantial improvement in the work-life balance.
One of the major advantages that I have noticed in organisations that follow four-day work week is that employees become more responsible.
They take it upon themselves to complete the tasks assigned to them within the prescribed time limit since they know that the overall work time at their disposal is quite limited.
They know that they have only a specific time band to get the job done. On account of this, they not only work better but also try their best to avoid factors that lead to work distractions.
It also eliminates procrastination to a large extent.
There is also a conscious effort to reduce time spent on unproductive activities like never-ending meetings. Employees tend to limit their meeting times so that they can focus more on the tasks to be completed.
Many employers have identified areas as well as tasks that lead to wastage of employees’ time and already steps have been taken to ensure that these tasks are eliminated.
This resolves any conflict that arise out of them.
A four-day work week also enables employees to get more personal time to pursue activities that interest them, enrol in courses that will lead to career development as well as enhancement, and do a whole lot of other things that will help to make their life better.
Having said this, there are also some industry categories where it is not possible to implement the four-day work rule.
These require an employee presence round-the-clock and following a four-day work week would lead to additional manpower requirements and result in a financial burden.
Though it is true that it may take time for managements to get a clear understanding about the efficacy of the four-day work rule, still, it is something worth considering.
There are naysayers who proclaim that in today’s rapidly changing corporate world, where every minute counts, it is impossible to implement the four-day work rule. They feel that this is as impractical as banning emails on holidays.
But what they should remember is the fact that an employee who is mentally fine-tuned will bring more results to the table than one who is constantly under pressure.
Today, some allow employees to switch off their mobiles after office hours.
The expectation to be in contact round-the-clock is no longer there and enlightened organisations have set in place a “right to disconnect” policy, thereby drawing a line between the personal and professional life.
It is time employers in this part of the world seriously start looking into the option of implementing a four-day work rule.
This can be started on an experimental basis during the off-season on a trial basis to understand the efficacy and iron out any chinks before moving forward.
Lal Chand is founder of LC Well.