With the Trade Union Congress calling for CEOs to cut a day off the working week, employers are under more pressure than ever to re-think traditional ideas of long office hours being beneficial to productivity.
In fact, thanks to ever-evolving technology, reducing office hours is not only a bigger possibility for your company, but it can become a productivity driver too.
The benefits of a four-day week to employees are easily apparent: lower stress levels, a better work life balance, more time to get household chores and errands done, reduced childcare costs, and so on. And the plus points don’t end there, business owners have much to gain from the idea of fewer working hours.
The most concerning thing for management having their workforce spending 20 percent less time in the office is most likely that productivity will take a nosedive. Yet most companies that have trialled the four-day week have actually seen productivity increase. How? Fewer people in the office at any one time equals fewer noise and distractions; employees have extra time to sort out niggling home life issues outside of work that can be distracting and stressful; higher rates of staff wellbeing, which leads to reduced absenteeism and higher staff retention; the benefits are hard to ignore.
This all sounds attractive in an ideal world, but the practicalities mean that a four-day week just isn’t viable for some businesses. If your company is not ready to take the leap into giving staff a day off every week, offering flexible and remote working could be a winning compromise for everyone. This delivers many of the key benefits of a 4-day week without the potential drawbacks.
It is a growing trend for skilled professionals moving towards a more flexible work from home scenario because is suits modern lifestyles. Travel costs and house prices have soared, so remote working can be more financially beneficial for workers. Plus, there’s the wellbeing factor when it comes to commuting – employees get a better work life balance without so many arduous journeys to and from the office.
The traditional five-day week is a product of the industrial revolution, but nowadays we have the technology to power more flexible work patterns. True, some things are more effective when done face-to-face, for example office time should be utilised for important meetings but others can be held via web conference through Skype, Google hangout, or one of the many great tools for conference calls.
Collaboration is also easy thanks to advances in software and products like Google docs for trackable editing. And a great task management system, such as Trello, helps to keep remote teams on track. Communication is key, so providing everyone is available online and you keep response times short through email, WhatsApp, Messenger, or however you choose to communicate, it must be quick and the equivalent to a walk into the office for a question.
Understandably, many employers are concerned at the idea of offering staff fewer hours and extra autonomy, but happy people make for productive, creative and successful staff, so it’s definitely worth exploring the options.
About the author
Gianluca Bisceglie, founder and CEO of Visyond, a cloud-based software platform that disrupts the way people work with spreadsheets – allowing secure, selective and interactive data sharing, minimising errors, and performing analyses in seconds with a few simple clicks. www.visyond.com