Intelligent CXO Issue 17 | Page 72

Pieter Manden , Head of Trust & Employer Compliance , WorkMotion
measuring the success of outputs , rather than the number of hours someone has worked .
With powerful technologies readily available to support flexible , remote and hybrid working practices , it is no longer necessary for every office worker to travel into the office every day of the week . This could lead to improvements in work-life balance and well-being , which would foster a more productive workplace culture and ensure a more resilient workforce . A shorter working week could also provide more flexibility for those who may live far from the office or are juggling personal and domestic responsibilities .
While there are benefits , a four-day workweek may not be suitable for every business , organisation or individual and it should be balanced with other important workplace considerations . Developing diversity and inclusion practices and implementing effective skills training , as well as personalised career , mental health and well-being support will be a particular focus for organisations .
Pieter Manden , Head of Trust & Employer Compliance , WorkMotion
Only a small minority of companies have currently adopted the four-day workweek . Or should we say that the four-day workweek is still an early adopter phenomenon ? Looking at the names of some companies that adopted it , you ´ re likely to answer this question in the affirmative .
Panasonic , for example , offers its employees a four-day workweek . However , the extra day off could only be used for a limited number of activities , such as volunteering or a side job .
The Japanese branch of Microsoft performed a four-day workweek trial in 2019 . The results were staggering . More than 90 % of the 2,300 employees said they liked the shorter workweek . Of course , they did – who wouldn ' t like to work less for the same money ? More surprising was the almost 40 % productivity increase during the trial period . Most amazingly , however , is the fact that the trial did not lead to the actual implementation of a four-day workweek .
It shows an uncertainty around the long-term effect on productivity . They go the extra mile during the trial period , but what happens after the four-day workweek has normalised ? It ' s simple maths that 40 hours of work is more than 32 hours .
Partially because companies hesitate , several governments are pushing for the four-day workweek – like Iceland and Japan , for example , and clearly , it isn ’ t a coincidence . Whether this really leads to an improved work-life balance is questionable . How would Panasonic ´ s side jobs have such an effect ? Other companies will switch to a four-day workweek but expect its employees to work 10 instead of eight hours per day . This might officially qualify , but in a lot of ways this is exactly the opposite of what the initiative is all about .
Companies that have currently adopted the four-day workweek have done so because of a fundamental belief that it ' s the right thing to do . Maybe they believe it will not negatively impact productivity in the long term and perhaps it might even have a positive structural impact . Maybe it is simply because they want their employees to have a better work-life balance .
Most likely it is because these companies consider the four-day workweek a great employee benefit . If it comes at a cost in terms of a productivity reduction , that ' s okay – almost all employee benefits have a cost . These companies expect the positive effects to outweigh this ( potential ) cost . Positive effects include higher engagement , improved retainment , higher well-being ( thus less absence ), increased productivity and increased employer attractiveness for new hires .
In the war for talent , this last point is especially likely to push more companies towards adopting the four-day workweek . At the same time , we do not expect that it will be broadly adopted by larger companies anytime soon . For this , governments will either have to enforce it , or preferably , the positive effects of a fourday workweek on people and business will be objectively proven . x
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