Time flies, but you’re the pilot.
Finding balance in our lives is a challenge few feel they have mastered. Juggling family, friends, work, caring responsibilities and hobbies needs more than a swanky app. What it really takes is courage. Courage to say no and courage to say “we can do this differently”.
Remote work, despite its many benefits, has further perpetuated the “always on” culture when your workplace is your home. Flexible work is a catchphrase rather than a reality if we’re not in control of our own boundaries.
The Harvard Business Review found that employees can spend up to 80% of their workdays communicating with colleagues in emails, meetings, and instant messaging apps on and off the clock.
But, what if?
Shorter working weeks have proven to increase balance in our lives and job satisfaction.
The biggest skeptics when it comes to the #4DayWeek are some of the most ambitious people I know. They remain unconvinced that by reducing the working week, this won’t negatively impact their output and in turn their success.
Research by Dr Juliet B. Schor on global four-day week pilots showed overwhelmingly positive results on work-life balance and productivity. “At the beginning of the trial, we asked them to rate their current work ability compared to their lifetime best as a measure of self-rated productivity, and that went up significantly. People felt at the end of the trial that they were more productive, they just were performing significantly better.
And then we asked, ‘Do you want to continue the trial?’ Some 97% said yes. We then asked how much they valued a four-day week by asking them how much more money they would require to work a five-day week at their next job. Some 42% said they’d require between 26% and 50% more pay,13% said they’d require more than 50% more pay, and 13% said no amount of money could make them go back to how things were before.”
Interestingly, it is also often ambitious, high achieving leaders who have the foresight to see that employees living balanced lives are more likely to stay with the company, be engaged with their work and in turn to achieve a high level of productivity.
The difference between these two groups is courage. Courage to lead and not be afraid of failure, and also recognition that we can do anything, but we cannot do everything.
Do less to get more
A shorter working week creates the time and space needed to prioritize things other than work and not feel guilty. Guilt is a feeling that has become more and more prevalent in our lives, particularly for working parents. The struggle to work hard and achieve your career goals while also dedicating yourself to your family can be extremely difficult.
After switching to a four-day workweek to address retention challenges in August 2021, 95% of the 250 employees at Boise-based non-profit Healthwise felt the policy positively impacted their work-life balance.
Some of the stories that we hear at the Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence about what reduced work time means for people are just incredibly powerful, whether that’s being able to do the school pickups, spending more time with elderly relatives, learning a new skill, or having time for a hobby. This is something that makes a truly transformative difference in people’s lives.
3 work resolutions for 2023 and beyond
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
Misconceptions about Fridays
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. 🚸