But, like hybrid working, the four-day week isn’t a new idea. I first moved to a four-day week after returning from maternity leave. As a new mother, I found that no matter how organised I was, I couldn’t do it all. I reviewed my work and convinced the business that I could deliver the same value in reduced hours.
Post-pandemic, these flexible work models are maturing from benefits available to some employees to company-wide policies.
For people still regularly working more than 40 hours, will the four-day week be a smoke and mirrors perk? Will some people have an “invisible workday”? The answer remains to be seen. In the meantime, here are some ways you can support your team on the journey to a four-day week.
Choose your day off wisely.
When I moved to a shorter work week, people quickly accepted that I was no longer available on the fifth day and that there would be a delayed response. However, my work wasn’t customer-facing, and I wasn’t involved in projects with short-term deadlines. So although I could set expectations with other people quite easily, that won’t be the case for everyone.
Companies should consider what teams collaborate most with each other and create working schedules that avoid important meetings and deadlines on someone’s day off. Employees also need support in setting expectations with clients and other external stakeholders.
Embrace asynchronous communication
We have all the tools available to work together while not working at the same time. Still, many companies are slow to let go of old work habits and put asynchronous communication into practice.
Learning how to get the job done without expecting immediate replies on MS Team, email, or any other platform is key to a successful four-day week.
Agree what the priority work is
The key to my success was ensuring I achieved my goals in fewer hours. This meant culling low-value tasks, eliminating unnecessary meetings, and tackling procrastination. Above all else, it meant agreeing on the priority with my manager. I didn’t have everything checked off the list at the end of every week, but the essential work always got done.
Focusing on high-value tasks and activities reduced unnecessary busyness across the week. While the company saw the week reduce from 40 to 32 hours, it was from 50 to 32 hours in reality. This had a massive impact on my well-being, my happiness in the role and my performance.
My four day week included a reduction in pay.
At this point, it’s worth remembering that I took a cut in salary to work a four-day week. However, there was no change in the value I added to the organisation. People often justify working unpaid overtime in a salaried role by saying they are paid for the results, not the hours. There is no reason the same statement can apply to reduced hours.
As progressive companies embrace the 100:80:100 model, I look forward to reading the good news stories of increased well-being, sustainable productivity improvements and high employee retention.
Stay well and have a better workday