- Nonprofit 4-Day Week Global is exploring how operating on a shorter work week schedule, with no loss in pay, could help companies.
- Charlotte Lockhart sat down with Allwork.Space’s Future of Work Podcast to discuss the ins and outs of a condensed work week model, the benefits tied to this arrangement, and why this not only helps employees, but businesses, too.
- The overarching guidance that the nonprofit uses is its 100-80-100 rule: staff receive 100% pay for 80% of their time as long as 100% of productivity is achieved.
Summer Fridays have long been a tradition for progressive companies looking to give employees more opportunities to enjoy the nice weather.
But what if this policy extended all year long?
That’s exactly what nonprofit 4-Day Week Global is trying to accomplish in its 6-month pilot study that allows companies in the UK to operate on a shorter work week schedule, with no loss in pay.
It all started with Charlotte Lockhart, cofounder and managing director of 4-Day Week Global, and her partner Andrew Bonds, who moved their New Zealand-based trust estate planning company Perpetual Guardian to a 32-hour week.
“[My partner said] that he read an article in The Economist that said that productivity in the UK was less than 3 hours a day,” said Lockhart. “So, he sent an email to our HR and said, ‘Hey, Christine, I’ve got this crazy idea. How about we give people a day off and see if we can improve productivity?’ She apparently deleted that email because she’s thinking, I’m not having any of that. This man’s a crazy person. But then the rest is history…”
Following the switch, the company reported a:
- 20% increase in productivity
- 45% increase in work-life balance
- 27% decrease in work-related stress
Recently, Lockhart sat down with Allwork.Space’s Future of Work Podcast to discuss the ins and outs of a condensed work week model, the benefits tied to this arrangement, and why this not only helps employees, but businesses, too.
The Pilot Program
Transitioning from a traditional five-day work week to a four-day work week seems simple on the surface, but requires prep to ensure that this arrangement works for staff.
Because employees participating in the program will maintain their current salaries with a shorter week, Lockhart says that it’s up to businesses to be flexible in how they offer their time off.
“[Having] a whole day off doesn’t necessarily suit all of your staff. If you’re a working parent, being able to come in at 10:00 in the morning every day might suit you better,” said Lockhart.
However, the overarching guidance that the nonprofit uses is its 100-80-100 rule: staff receive 100% pay for 80% of their time, as long as 100% of productivity is achieved.
The end goal? Efficiency.
Lockhart says that traditional work expectations involve being in the office a set number of hours and meeting attendance goals. But the future? That’s a much different story.
“[How] many times have you been to a meeting where you didn’t really feel like you needed to be there, and on your desk is that report that you still need to finish?” said Lockhart. “But you go, ‘Okay, well, I’ll go to this meeting and then I’ll do the report tonight after the kids have gone to bed.’ Well, why? Your job was to get the report done.”
Cutting out the unnecessary traditions of the workplace that emphasizes headcount over creative output not only sets a business up for success, but it also shows employees that they are trusted enough to get their work done.
A Win-Win Situation
A shorter work week seems like a dream scenario for employees, but is likely leaving business leaders gritting their teeth.
So how can the topic be brought up with respect to the overall business? Start by highlighting the benefits.
Research has continuously supported the perks of a shorter work week, including improved employee mental health, efficiency, productivity, job satisfaction, and possibly most importantly, it generates revenue.
“[In] the end, the shareholders require them to make money,” said Lockhart.
“So therefore, what you’re saying is, ‘If we do this program and we can increase the productivity and profitability of the business, will you let us try it?’ And you don’t actually have to sell a whole four-day week… You just have to sell the idea of running a pilot.”
However, managers must be open to demolishing their established beliefs of a work environment and be open to exploring new models that would help the business’ bottom line.
In order to ease the minds of concerned business leaders, it’s important to outline exactly what a four-day work week could entail and lay out clear expectations for employees.
The Ultimate Goal
“People often ask me, ‘so, tell me about the times when it has failed,’” said Lockhart. “It fails when the CEO and the C-suite try and solve all the problems around, ‘How are we going to do this from the C-suite?’”
That’s why she said it’s essential to address all potential obstacles that could come with a shorter work week before launching a pilot program.
By the end of 4-Day Work Week Global’s UK experiment, Lockhart says that she hopes a shorter work week will become the norm for companies. But this starts with listening to the needs and wants of employees.
“What’s coming out of it is all of these usual stories around the fact that it’s the best thing that people have ever done, that the staff are really happy, that they’re finding all sorts of really quite clever things within their business that they hadn’t anticipated they’d be able to do,” said Lockhart.
“One of the other pieces of advice that we hear time and time again is, ‘Well, it was easier than I thought.’”