There’s a surefire way to make yourself an employer of choice for top talent.

According to this latest study from Robert Walters, the #4DayWeek is the single most attractive perk for employees, with 44% selecting it as the most enticing incentive (ahead of 38% choosing the ability to work from anywhere).

Post pandemic, employees value time over any other benefit. Only 16% of the 2,000 workers sampled in this survey would opt for a pay rise instead of a four-day week.

Work from home and flexible working arrangements are increasingly common.

Pay rises that keep pace with inflation and the cost of living are often a standard expectation.

But the shorter working week, while steadily growing in popularity, remains niche enough in most industries to offer a substantial differentiator and competitive edge.

If you’re a dynamic CEO or people professional that sees this as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and want to learn more about how it works in practice, I’d love to hear from you and have the opportunity to share how Work Time Reduction can support you on this ambitious journey.

Post-pandemic, we are still figuring out how we design our workplaces and workweeks to optimize organizational performance and employee happiness.

In my opinion, the most successful work models of the future will offer both flexibility and structure.

The founding father of the continuous quality improvement philosophy, W. Edwards Deming, wrote that 94% of issues in today’s workplaces are systemic, with only 6% attributable to individuals.

Those organizations that focus solely on discretionary benefits at an individual level, will likely engender an individualized behavioral response which focuses on the 6%.

That’s why, when we at Work Time Reduction work with organizations to help them adopt reduced-hour work models, we focus on the collective.

Offering a benefit that is equitable and universal, and using this as a collective incentive to drive structural, systemic change in how your teams and processes function, is the golden ticket to a more productive, efficient workforce.

In the groove or stuck in a rut?

We talk a lot about flow states in our work at Work Time Reduction, and sometimes it is easier said than done. ๐Ÿค”

So, I’m sharing a productivity tip from Amantha Imber in her latest for Fast Company which I think many of you in my network might find useful. โœ…

The concept she introduces here is known as ‘The Hemingway Trick’, based on an old adage from the decorated writer Ernest Hemingway – “when you are going good, stop writing”.

Effectively, it argues that by leaving a task incomplete at the end of the work day, your brain finds it easier to switch on the next day by picking up where you left off than starting from scratch. ๐Ÿ’ก

“Our brain continues to think about the unfinished task and when we come back to it, our brain is primed to easily pick up where it left off”.

This is also linked to ‘The Zeigarnik Effect’, based on a famous 1926 experiment that demonstrates that our brains hate unfinished business so much, they retain the information until closure is achieved! ๐Ÿง 

You can try this out for yourself by finishing your work day midway through a sentence, slide, line of code, or whatever work you’re doing. If you do, let me know how it works for you in the comments!

People spend 57% of their daily work time just communicating in meetings, email, and chat. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

That’s according to this new study from Microsoft on AI and the workplace. ๐Ÿ”Ž

And that’s not all.

๐Ÿ”ด 68% of people surveyed say they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time.

๐Ÿ”ด 64% say they struggle to have the time and energy to do the job.

This phenomenon is an epidemic in modern organizations. ๐Ÿค’

#WorkTimeReduction can be a CATALYST to make your organization more efficient by creating a forced constraint around time.

It can also be a powerful INCENTIVE which motivates and engages people in the process of finding efficiencies.

Counter intuitively, while people have less time to get their work done, they have more space and energy to focus on what really matters.

#ItsAboutTime we rewarded people for finding better ways to get their work done, not for the performance of ‘hard work’ and long hours.

Which one will you take? ๐Ÿ›ฃ

Company A ๐Ÿ’ก

  • Embraces the potential for AI to radically improve their processes, streamline their operations and automate administrative tasks
  • Wants to be an early adapter of new technologies, but sees the opportunity to share the benefit of this with employees through reduced working time
  • Implements a shorter working week, boosting engagement to drive the integration of new tools to their day-to-day processes and leading to a more efficient organization
  • Steals a march on their competitors when it comes to attracting talent and retaining their best people, due to the attractiveness of their new #WorkTimeReduction offering

Company B ๐Ÿค‘

  • Sees similar opportunity in AI and wants to get out of the blocks quickly
  • Struggles to get employees to engage with the process of integrating new AI tools in their daily work
  • Makes some progress and delivers some efficiencies, but not to the same extent as Company A due to lower engagement levels
  • Utilizes all of these efficiencies to realize cost savings and lay off some of their staff, further damaging morale
  • This causes some key people to leave, and any cost savings are swallowed up by the cost of replacing and retraining

Company C ๐Ÿ“

  • Passively follows new developments in AI, but ‘too busy’ to change systems and processes at this time
  • Falls behind their competitors, who are delivering leaner, more efficient services with happier, healthier employees
  • Struggles to catch up due to internal resistance to change, and talent flight to cutting-edge market leaders like Company A

Which path will your organization take? ๐Ÿค”

If you want to be like Company A, combining operational excellence with the most attractive and effective employee proposition out there, get in touch with us at Work Time Reduction to start the conversation and your journey to a shorter working week. โœ…๏ธ

Someone asked me a great question yesterday.

If the pandemic was the catalyst for the #4DayWeek to go mainstream, what might the catalyst be for it to become the norm? ๐Ÿค”

The impact of Covid and the “Great Resignation” led to exponential growth for the shorter working week movement. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

We are now in an incremental growth phase, as company leaders are gradually persuaded of the benefits and convinced by the research, and adoption by industry competitors creates ripple effects to encourage others to follow. ๐ŸŒฑ

Numerous sentiment surveys in the UK, the US and Canada suggest that the majority of executives and decision-makers believe the four-day week to be possible, desirable and even inevitable in the near future – but most are still watching and waiting.

But could another external force fast-track this process? ๐Ÿš€

For me, the obvious answer lies in the impact of #ArtificialIntelligence, for 3 key reasons. ๐Ÿค–

1๏ธโƒฃ EFFICIENCY – Many organizations that I have worked with and supported to move to shorter working weeks have automated certain tasks and used technology to improve administrative processes. This was before #ChatGPT #AutoGPT and other tools opened up a world of possibility for how we get our work done. The scope to enhance productivity is now much greater. ๐Ÿ’ฅ

2๏ธโƒฃ PROTECTING EMPLOYMENT – I think that it is inevitable that we reach a point in the cycle where governments and the public sector look to shorter working weeks to help preserve jobs in industries and professions significantly disrupted by #AI. We can use technology to maintain employment and productivity levels while reducing hours. ๐ŸŒŸ

3๏ธโƒฃ FAIRNESS – The inequitable distribution of the spoils of #globalization and #digitalization has led to political polarization and popular backlash against democracies the world over, most notably characterized in the west by the election of #Trump and the #Brexit referendum campaign. We have to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, and the benefits of AI, #automation and robotics are shared fairly with workers across the economy. One good place to start is through reduced working time. ๐Ÿ‘

The pandemic didn’t lead to an immediate surge in demand for the four-day week. If anything, the initial fallout from March 2020 onwards slowed down the pace of change, as leaders grappled with sudden transitions to remote working, supply chain disruption, economic uncertainty and a myriad of other issues. ๐ŸŒช

It was only a year later, when the transformative change we had collectively experienced started to bed in, that leaders, managers and employees started to truly open up to the potential for shorter working weeks to be possible. ๐Ÿ’ก

Has the recent explosion in excitement and fear about AI tools and technologies mirrored the early stages of the pandemic? Will this be a precursor for another radical shift in how we structure the workweek?

HR leaders are currently faced with a variety of different choices when it comes to designing the right flexibility model for their business. ๐Ÿคนโ€โ™€๏ธ

They know that, in most industries, offering some form of flexibility is necessary in today’s labor market if they want to be competitive.

So why opt for a shorter working week structure instead of a pure flexibility model where people can work where they like, when they like?

The answer lies in the virtues of structured flexibility.

Often, when “total flexibility” is offered without clear structure, and in a way that is silent on the average hours people work or changing the way they work, this model can be so discretionary and individualized as to be effectively meaningless.

Like with many examples of unlimited holiday/PTO policies in the United States, the benefit tends to be unevenly distributed, and the level of take up and access can vary widely depending on how your manager interprets the policy, career progression dynamics, team dynamics, individual roles and personalities, and even gender.

It also fails to provide an incentive for collective, structural change.

The #4DayWeek is so universally life-changing and transformative that it drives engagement, collaboration and collective responsibility across teams to find a better way to do things.

Instead of leaving it up to individuals, people are motivated to work together to change how they meet, how they communicate, how they use technology, and how they address inefficiencies.

Whether you see the future of work for your organization as being remote-first and asynchronous, in-person and on-site, or somewhere in between, work time reduction can be a powerful driver for collective action where everyone benefits materially from finding solutions to the challenges facing your business.

In order to address an issue, you need two key ingredients.

  1. an understanding of the root causes of the issue, and
  2. the motivation and urgency to address it

Most business leaders today recognize the need to future proof their organization, and that in order to do this they need their operations to be lean, nimble and efficient while making sure their business is an attractive, engaging place to work for their people.

  1. Our operational excellence diagnostic for work time reduction assesses your organization’s health across a wide range of different factors, and identifies issues and challenges that need to be remedied and overcome – getting to the root causes of what is holding you back from being as productive as you could be.
  2. The incentive of introducing a shorter working week trial or policy provides the motivation and urgency necessary to engage and empower all of your people in addressing these key issues and challenges.

That’s why this approach often leads to the almost counter intuitive outcome of businesses delivering better results while their people work fewer hours – it’s got the right ingredients to make an impactful and sustainable change.

Our latest partnership at Work Time Reduction is a particularly exciting one.

I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with Banks Benitez over the past couple of years, and I can say without hesitation that he is one of the most inspirational leaders and insightful thinkers on the #FutureOfWork that I’ve worked alongside.

He is one of the true pioneers of the shorter working week in the United States. In addition to his direct executive experience of leading his company Uncharted to implement a #4DayWeek in 2020, he was also instrumental in the world’s first amalgamation of two four-day week organizations when Uncharted became part of Common Future.

That’s why we’ve joined forces with Smart Workweek to grow the shorter working week movement together.

What does this mean for Work Time Reduction clients and community?

It means we can now offer direct, exclusive access to the Smart Workweek platform, a leading online course for teams with step-by-step guidelines and resources on how to pilot a four-day week.

This provides small companies with the end-to-end support necessary to successfully transition to a four-day week, as well as an evergreen resource for large organizations for ongoing reference and retraining in smart working.

This will capably supplement the bespoke, in-depth, industry-specific consultancy services that we offer at Work Time Reduction, as well as the market-leading operational excellence capacity and #ChangeManagement expertise of Curium Solutions / Curium Solutions US.

And this isn’t just about combining our past creations and present offerings. We are committed to collaborating together to build groundbreaking new services, and to jointly develop technology solutions, that will help to scale the global shorter working week movement and shape the future world of work.

By combining our shared knowledge of supporting hundreds of companies to transition to reduced-hour schedules, as well as the Work Time Reduction consultancy services and Smart Workweek‘s online course, together we are building a suite of resources and collective expertise to help companies big and small transition to a shorter working week.

In 2021 and 2022, the majority of companies who adopted #4DayWeeks did so to complement their hybrid or remote-first models.

Many had moved to hybrid or fully remote during the pandemic and the shorter working week felt like a logical next step.

Many more had offered this pre-pandemic, and were now turning to the four-day week to give them an edge, as what was once a competitive advantage for them (work from home flexibility) had now been swallowed up and become the standard expectation in their industry.

An interesting development that is emerging this year is a notable increase in employers who are prepared to consider the shorter working week as an alternative to hybrid/remote working.

This is illustrated in these new findings from Hays ๐Ÿ‘‡

“Office workers would be prepared to give up their work from home routine in exchange for a four-day week, according to new research.

It found that close to two-thirds (63%) of workers would prefer to work a four-day week, spending all their time in the office, compared to just (37%) who would prefer to work five hybrid days.”

While we believe that the focus of leaders should be very much on work output rather than work location, this does demonstrate the value that a majority of modern employees place on time – over and above almost every other benefit.

More and more businesses are exploring different work time reduction models, often for very different reasons.

If this includes you, reach out to us at Work Time Reduction. We know that reduced-hour models are not one size fits all, which is why we work with organizations to design a custom roadmap based on their specific needs, challenges and context.