With the majority of UK employers believing that a four-day workweek will become the norm before 2030, and with the UK’s largest trial of a four-day workweek currently underway, it seems the world of work is about to change.
The shift to hybrid working, combined with a labor shortage across the UK and the Great Layoff, have led to a renewed focus on employee well-being – with employee needs becoming a key and central consideration for employers. A reassessment of day-to-day work-life balance is high on the list, and the 4-day work week is one of the most radical moves to address this issue yet. An ideal outcome would be a total transformation of what it means to work, ultimately valuing performance rather than time online.
As with any major shift, this will have a significant impact on the workplace, and if employers are to benefit from the new 100:80:100 model – 100% of wages for 80% of the time in exchange for 100% productivity – they need to be prepared . For the 4-day work week to be a success, employers need to anticipate the challenges it will bring and adapt their workplace accordingly.
Refocusing performance on productivity
Over time, many workplaces have slipped into an unhealthy and ultimately harmful culture of presenteeism. However, the fatigue caused by constant overtime or working sick leave can mean employees are ultimately less productive. Feeling overworked not only contributes to the production of substandard work, but over time it can lead to employees quitting altogether, as the last year has shown. In fact, in 2021, 39% of workers cited working too many hours as a reason for quitting.
The 4-day workweek aims to combat this harmful culture by promoting the view that performance should not be measured by long hours in the office, but rather by performance, productivity and the quality of work done. Effective preparation for such a shift begins with embracing this approach to work and giving employees time to rest. As a result, companies can not only ensure better overall performance, but also a happy, content workforce that is willing to give their all.
Optimize the workplace with innovative tools
While reducing the number of days in a workweek is a great initiative from a wellness perspective, the obvious consideration is that it gives employees less time to accomplish the same goal. To enable maximum productivity, employees need to work smarter, not harder, and it’s important that they are equipped with the right tools to do their job as efficiently as possible.
With a workday less, even small, repetitive tasks can be made more efficient to increase overall productivity. For processes that require performing the same action multiple times (such as switching between tabs in spreadsheets), the time it takes to use the same keyboard shortcuts can add up to a significant portion of the lost time. By using peripherals that can be individually programmed to perform task-specific processes with the push of a button (e.g., on the side of a computer mouse), employees can realize small time savings that add up to larger productivity gains.
In addition to customizable peripherals, it’s also important to consider how employees interact with each other when working remotely. The offer of hybrid working has now become indispensable, and for this to work smoothly with reduced weekly working hours, companies have to think about the standard of their collaboration tools. Ensuring that every employee and meeting room is equipped with up-to-date and reliable video conferencing hardware that uses the same consistent user interface ensures an optimized hybrid work experience overall.
Drive engagement by making employees feel good
Hybrid working and “work from anywhere” policies have meant that employees today often work in uncomfortable spaces not intended for work. This discomfort can have a devastating impact on productivity as aches and pains from poorly designed equipment tear employees out of the all-important “flow” that will be key to optimizing the 4-day workweek. Implementing ergonomic tools in the workplace is critical to maintaining quality performance and maintaining high morale.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is unfortunately a common occurrence in the modern workplace, with RSI research showing that 1 in 50 UK workers suffer from the condition. In most cases, this is caused by the repeated use of unergonomic computer mice and keyboards. Over time, this can result in employees needing sick leave to recover from their RSI injuries.
However, there are steps employers can take to ensure their employees are not injured or lose concentration as a result of the way they work. For example, ergonomic mice and keyboards that conform to the natural shape of the hands, such as vertical mice and curved keyboards, relieve wrist strain and allow employees to type naturally without breaking concentration.
A happy, productive future
Introducing a 4-day work week may seem intimidating to many organizations. With a day less, companies could fear a drop in production that will leave them behind the competition. However, if these organizations make the appropriate preparations to optimize the productivity of these four days – with ergonomics, adaptable technology and a productivity-based approach – they have the opportunity to transform their organization into a master of employee satisfaction and productivity.
About the author:
Sean McCarry is a VC Commercial at Logitech. With 30 years of experience in the technology industry, Sean’s passion is building successful and scalable teams that deliver results in business and digital transformation. His enthusiasm for innovative technologies and building compelling sales arguments led him to work with Logitech.