Intelligent CXO Issue 25 | Page 71


The changes we ’ ve seen in working patterns haven ’ t resembled a simple switch between office-based operations to hybrid and remote models .

Rather , the entire employment landscape has been overhauled , paving the way for the implementation of creative and experimental policies as organisations seek to strike the optimal balance that benefits both them and their employees .
From allowing people to choose their own hours , to offering unlimited annual leave , companies have been exploring several progressive approaches . Yet one trend that is gathering notable momentum in this space is the shorter working week .
This is not a new concept . Between 2015 and 2019 , Iceland ran trials that cut the work week from 40 hours to 35 without reducing pay for 1 % of its workforce , for example . However , we ’ ve seen other countries and companies eyeing it more readily in recent times .
There have been several different takes . In 2019 , the municipality of Odsherred in Denmark trialled a Monday to Thursday schedule for 300 public employees whereby total hours weren ’ t reduced . In 2022 , the UAE reduced the work week for public staff to 4.5 days . And come the spring , the Spanish city of Valencia will also roll out a four-day work week test on a broad basis .
These trials aren ’ t simply for fun , but to explore the widespread benefits that they can bring to the table .
According to a co-ordinated six-month trial involving 33 companies and 903 workers , a fourday week leads to a happier workforce . Of the 495 employees who responded to the post-trial survey , 97 % said they wanted to continue with a four-day week , with 45 % stating they had greater job satisfaction and 60 % citing an improved work / life balance .
Where the employee experience has become a key frontier of competition , reducing the working week can give companies a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent .
These advantages are enticing , but it ’ s important to note that they won ’ t be realised overnight .
Embracing a shorter working week isn ’ t a simple case of flicking a switch . To ensure such a dramatic operational change doesn ’ t result in any radical and unwanted outcomes , it ’ s a process that needs to be carefully managed to ensure continuity ( or ideally improvement ) is achieved across the board .
While the whole idea revolves around employees working more efficiently , with less hours in the week to manage the same responsibilities , it is critical that this dynamic doesn ’ t lead to shortcuts .
From an IT perspective , there is a fear that employees favouring productivity could be more likely to cut corners , drop best practice and jeopardise company security .
Cybercriminals today see the individual as an easy target . It is no coincidence that social engineering campaigns such as phishing are so common – according to an IBM study , human error was the primary reason for 95 % of cybersecurity breaches .
Given that the cost to the global economy stemming from cybercriminal activities is expected to almost triple in the next five years , organisations must ensure they prioritise the improvement of their protective efforts as the threat landscape only gets worse .
It is therefore critical that any adaptations in the working week do not undermine security and lead to key protocols being swept under the carpet in favour of time savings . Indeed , organisations must ensure that the security chain becomes stronger , not weaker .
Security policies to consider when implementing a shorter working week
However , it ’ s not just beneficial to staff . Equally , the study showed that , on average , company revenues rose 8.14 % during the trial – more than one percentage point every month .
Improving awareness is a critical piece of this puzzle . By maximising awareness of security best practices among the employee base , any risks stemming from particular actions , devices
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