In 2021, I designed the first-ever #4DayWeek pilot program and research project in my home country of Ireland, having been involved in #WorkTimeReduction research, advocacy and coaching since 2018.

A lot has changed in the 5 years since then. This model, which was originally intended to be a small-scale project which provided some support, infrastructure and assessment to de-risk the process for leaders in Ireland who were interested in testing this out, was expanded to support a host of global trials in 2022 involving hundreds of companies and thousands of employees all over the world – including the recent landmark UK trial.

As an impatient leader that is constantly thinking about the next thing, how we build on this success and momentum and how we take the movement forward has been on my mind since the middle of last year.

First, we need to acknowledge that the bigger and more complex the organization, the more challenging this endeavor will be. It will also require in many cases a longer-term, more incremental, more flexible organizational transformation to #WorkTimeReduction than the prescription for the mostly small to medium sized businesses that took part in the #4DayWeek trials. That was a big part of my motivation for teaming up with Curium Solutions and Curium Solutions US to set up the Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence, as they bring the necessary experience and expertise in supporting big, complex change management and operational excellence projects in larger companies to the table.

Second, we need to acknowledge that if the movement is to be scalable and inclusive, we need to find a way to support companies who have limited resources to bring in outside expertise, companies who don’t speak the same language as us, and companies in countries where we don’t have on-the-ground infrastructure.

That’s why I’ve been working on building a collaborative solution that leverages our knowhow and networks in this field, alongside cutting-edge, market-leading technological capacity and software expertise. Our goal this year is to deliver a cost-efficient, universally available product with the scalability to support leaders, managers and employees not only to change their organizational policies and operations to accommodate a shorter working week, but to change their culture, processes and behaviors, as well as measuring the impact of this change. This will be a one-stop-shop for smaller, more nimble organizations with relatively flat structures and straightforward decision-making processes to move to a shorter work week.

Third, and arguably the most pressing challenge, we need to acknowledge that if the model to adopt shorter working weeks is not one-size-fits-all, then our model to support them shouldn’t be one-size fits all either. That’s why through our expert advisory group, our partnerships with industry specialists and shorter working week pioneers with sector-specific expertise, and the new industry-specific programs we have announced this week, we have developed a tailored approach designed to meet the company’s individual needs and challenges as well as their specific industry context and circumstances.

We’re starting with law, insurance, marketing and professional services, although more will follow later this year. These particular sectors have been chosen as while they have been underrepresented for the most part in recent global experiments, we believe that with the right approach, there is a significant opportunity to reduce working time in these professions without loss of pay or productivity. We have the expertise and the model in place to make this a reality, and the slower pace of adoption to date in these industries only means that the competitive advantage and differentiation that will flow to those who embrace this new workplace innovation will be even greater.

There is an opportunity now to apply the learnings and positive findings from recent global trials and case studies to industry-specific, company-specific, even department-specific challenges. We’ve assembled the people and built the roadmap to make this happen.

Many businesses who ended up moving to the ‘gold standard’ 4-day, 32-hour work week model in the trials had previously had successful experiments with incremental work time reduction models like 9-day fortnights, half-day Fridays, summer Fridays or ‘flex’ Fridays, which gave them the confidence and the buy-in to go all the way. We need to support businesses to get on the road and start heading in the right direction, as well as those who are ready to head straight for the final destination. Many others that work in industries with irregular hours will need support in designing alternative work time reduction models to the #4DayWeek, accommodating shorter work days and different shift patterns.

My prediction for 2023 is that the thing that will move the needle most for the shorter working week movement will be mid-market, strategically significant companies across different industries embracing the #4DayWeek or other forms of #WorkTimeReduction. This will have a competitive ripple effect that will make the Fortune 500 companies who have been watching this with interest, and maybe even some scepticism and fear, stand up and take notice.

We’ve zoomed out and built the broad case. Now it’s time to zoom back in again, meet people where they are at, and truly understand what it takes to pull this off for different companies with very different DNA. What is the feasibility and impact of shorter working weeks in these industries, and what exactly does best practice look like? We’re about to find out.

I’ve been thinking about two big similarities between the shift to remote working and the shift to shorter working weeks.

One similarity was the impact of the pandemic.

Covid didn’t make remote working possible for the huge volume of organizations and industries that moved remote en masse. We didn’t invent virtual meetings or asynchronous communication technologies in response to the pandemic, they were already at our disposal long before covid.

It made it permissible – the idea that you could run a global company from your kitchen table, or be just as productive if not more so when your workplace is your home, became acceptable to business and to society.

I believe the same to be true for the concept of a shorter working week. Decades of progress in the form of globalization, digitalization, the advent of the internet and email, and so much more, meant that we already had the productive capacity pre-pandemic to spend less time at work without impacting performance and results.

But the way in which the pandemic disrupted many deeply rooted preconceptions about work and the workweek opened the eyes of many leaders, managers and employees to the possibility that it didn’t have to be this way forever. It didn’t even need to stay this way right now.

Where once the 5-day week seemed like the only show in town and the 4-day week seemed like a pie in the sky fantasy, now for very many people the 5-day week looks like an outdated relic designed for the second industrial era and an economy built around manufacturing, and the 4-day week feels long overdue.

There’s one other big similarity between the move to remote working and the move to a shorter working week. For companies that moved from five days in person to a hybrid or remote model, they needed to flip a decades-old compulsion to value and reward presenteeism, and focus instead on measurement based on results and outcomes. The performative value placed on being the first person to come into the office or the last person to leave was ended, so sharpening actual metrics of performance became essential. The same is true with the shorter working week.

They needed to rely much more on asynchronous communications when people’s schedules became more flexible, and needed to become much more deliberate about how they structured the workweek between collaboration, administration, focused work and rest. The same is true with the shorter working week.

That’s why for many companies that have successfully moved to remote or hybrid working, in many ways this involved a more significant organizational change than moving to a shorter working week will likely present. They often see the four-day week not as a radical departure, but as a logical next step.

Today, more than half of the world’s companies offer some capacity for remote working. 1 in every 5 employees globally work fully from home. Work location has changed forever for millions. Who would have predicted that 10 years ago?

10 years from now, 4-day weeks will be the new normal and work time reduction will come as standard. How long we work for and the way in which we work will change forever for millions. #ItsAboutTime for leaders to get ahead of the curve.

3️⃣ recurring work resolutions that all of us should take heed of in 2023 and beyond:

🥇EMBRACE TIME AS A SCARCE RESOURCE⏳️

If you treat time as the scarce, precious resource that it is, your work will be more efficient and productive, and your life will be more balanced and fulfilling.

🥈PRIORITIZATION IS KEY TO EFFICIENCY AND ACHIEVEMENT🏆

If you get better at prioritizing at work, you will set yourself up to achieve your goals outside of work. Regarding everything as a priority will inevitably lead to a creep effect where your work eats into your time off more and more.

🥉SET BETTER BOUNDARIES 🔕

Not just between work and life, but between focused work and ‘on demand’ work. Appreciate the value of time to ‘switch off’ and recharge outside of work, as well as the value of being ‘switched on’ to important tasks free of interruption while at work.

All of us, myself included, can strive to do a better job of these 3 things individually. Being more deliberate with your time is a good creed to work by. 🕙

But for truly transformative, long-lasting change, this needs to be a collective endeavour in workplaces, that really attacks the key company-wide drivers of wasteful inefficiency, missed opportunity and unfulfilled potential.

As individuals, we don’t have the agency to change the way we do business more fundamentally without a structured approach. No one of us can resolve to do meetings differently, manage distractions differently, reform organizational processes, or use technology more mindfully on our own. That requires a team-wide effort.👬👫👭

That’s where a Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence shorter working week change project comes in. 🚧

Working in the business of organizational change offers a constant window into reinvention. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from many inspiring and innovative leaders throughout 2022. 💡

In 2023, I’m looking forward to helping more and more organizations rethink their processes, practices, culture and mindset, to transform the way they work and change the lives of their people. 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣3️⃣

One of the biggest misconceptions about the shorter working week is that it is a one-size fits all, rigid model based around Thursday being the new Friday. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 🤥

Although average working hours decreased by 6 hours on average in the recent #4DayWeek global trial results, less than half of the companies that took part adopted a model where all employees took Friday off. 🤔

This model, where feasible, has a lot of upside. Having a single universal day off maximizes the availability of your team for internal collaboration and team-working, and having a three-day weekend maximizes the benefit of extra time for rest and recuperation. However, it won’t work for everyone, particularly those in customer-facing, availability-dependent roles. ☎️

Not only does the appropriate schedule depend on your business and your industry, it might even depend on what department of the business you are in. 👨‍💼👩‍💼

Not everyone can afford to take Fridays off. But the vast majority of businesses have the productive capacity and technological tools at their disposal to start working smarter, and start working less. And many can achieve a four-day week by taking a creative approach to scheduling, prioritization and resource demand. 💡

For those that aren’t quite there yet, there are improvements to processes and changes to work practices that can help their business become more efficient, and give their people, who often might be regularly overworking their contracted #workinghours, some of their time back. 🕓👍

And lots of businesses in between are experimenting with everything from 9-day fortnights, to shorter work days, to treating Fridays as a half-day, a ‘flex’ or ‘freedom’ day with no meetings or fixed work commitments, or a day off in the summer. ☀️

Often this is a step in the right direction to a four-day week, and sometimes it might be the final destination. 🗺📍

It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey. We at the Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence can help you on the road to work time reduction. 🚸

Many of you will have seen the coverage about the success of the #4DayWeek trials, and you might find it hard to get your head around. 😕

You’re working in a busy job, for a busy company, and the idea that you could get your work done as well if not better in four days rather than five … well, it might seem like a bit of a stretch. ⛔️

But have a think about all of the times you’ve been in a meeting and wondered why it was necessary, why it was going on so long, and why you even needed to be there? 🕙

Have a think about all of the times you were in the zone, making real progress on something really important, and you get needlessly interrupted by something that turned out to be insignificant… and how long it took you to get back into your flow.⏳️

Think about how many times you’ve felt that the way you do certain things at your company is outdated, wasteful or just not quite as good as it could be, and that there’s a different, better way to do it.💡

What if I was to tell you that reduced working time is all about questioning things, changing things, and creating the environment that allows you to be more productive at work and in turn to make the company you work for more efficient. 👌

That it’s really about giving you more time to focus on what really matters when you’re at work, so that you have more time to focus on what really matters outside of work. ❤️

In 2022, it shouldn’t be about the performance of hard work, working long hours, wearing it as a badge of honor, and sacrificing the things that really matter in your life, but instead about prioritization and the drivers of real results. 🎯

The real measure of high professional standards should be the ability to produce the same quality in less time. 📏

We used to allow professional standards to be defined by the length of time you spent at the office, at the desk or on the clock.

We used to enable those who were prepared to sacrifice their time with family, their work-life balance and their wellbeing for their career to wear it as a badge of honor.

No more.

The future of work is here, and it has no place for performative renditions of what ‘hard work’ looks like.

💪Working smarter is hardcore.

💪Focusing on the drivers of real results rather than the illusion that working long hours equals greater productivity is hardcore.

💪Embracing a change in mindset and culture rather than doubling down on ‘the way we’ve always done things here’ is hardcore.

💪Producing the same work to the same or a higher standard than your competition in less time is hardcore.

💪Finding efficiencies and unlocked potential in your business and giving your employees their time back in return is hardcore.

It’s time for old-school, machismo leadership to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

I’m delighted to share some news with you of a new initiative and partnership I’ve been working on.

I’m teaming up with leading people-first transformation company Curium Solutions Curium Solutions US to establish the world’s first Center of Excellence (CoE) in Work Time Reduction, which we are planning to formally launch in the coming weeks.

Our new CoE will focus on three discrete areas, all geared towards changing the world of work through shorter hours, smarter working, improved performance, and enjoying a greater quality of life.

  • Providing bespoke, specialized consulting services, supports, and expert advice for leaders and companies who want to help their organizations and people to work shorter and smarter
  • Developing high-tech digital tools, products and software to help organizations and individuals who want to work more efficiently in order to reduce their hours to make change and measure change
  • Investing in world-class future of work research and experimentation, with an emphasis on the impact and feasibility of work time reduction

I believe that Curium’s industry-leading expertise in operational excellence, coupled with my experience designing and implementing shorter working week trials alongside hundreds of companies all over the world, can underpin the kind of infrastructure necessary to take the shorter work week movement to the next level.

Curium’s people-first approach aligns with my values, and is evident both in their client work and their organizational culture. They have also clearly demonstrated their ambition to be pioneers rather than passengers in how they promote the concept of the shorter working week to their customers.

Our new CoE will be global in nature, headquartered in Canada. Since moving to Toronto, I’ve got a strong sense of a city that is filled with opportunity – business-friendly, forward-thinking, progressive, and at the cutting edge of technology. This partnership will enable us to tap into this potential for Canada to become a global hub for flexible working, as well as Curium’s existing strong reputation and reach in the UK, US and beyond.

Many businesses are inspired by the principles and practices behind the growing global #4DayWeek movement, but don’t yet feel ready to take the leap due to operational challenges, organizational complexity, or internal politics and bureaucracy.

We want to partner with these companies to help them overcome these issues, and provide support tailored to their specific needs in order to enable them to begin the process of reducing work time.

We will be sharing more information later this month when the CoE is formally launched, so keep your eyes peeled!

In the meantime, if you feel we can support you, if you’re interested in getting involved with what we are building, or you’d just like to learn more, I’d love to hear from you. Please reach out by direct message and let’s start the conversation!