The Pros & Cons of the future of working the four-day week

Will reducing the working week help to sustain our business?

By Jessica Bailey, Managing director of Changetoolbox 

If we believe that introducing a shorter working week is key to the success of sustaining our businesses and holding onto our talent, does this mean that we need to employ more ambitious professionals to absorb the work? Or, are we expecting the same people to complete the same work, but in less hours?

If we work on the basis that we don’t want to overload our talent and we want them to feel motivated, empowered and productive, what’s going to happen to the tasks they can no longer do because they work fewer hours?

As a business leader and entrepreneur, the math’s don’t add up – the same staff, less hours, really?

Put in simple terms can fewer working hours equate to producing the same workload?

Let’s explore some of changes we could implement within our business to accommodate a shorter working week and follow this through and look at the Pros and Cons.

So, we may want to:

  • Review job roles and look at the tasks staff ‘actually do’ and identify if these tasks could be streamlined? This could be the change enabler needed to offer a shorter working week, still achieve the same productivity and still offer the same service!
  • We live in a social world, which has changed how we think, manage resources and communicate. We have access to fantastic media, smart phones and shorter ways of messaging and virtual face-face, these and more has changed our forms of communication and this means that we are communicating faster, achieving results quicker, with the added bonus of cutting out ‘travel time,’ so with the right change guidance, it’s another potential opportunity to reduce working hours!
  • More businesses, just like my own is fast becoming super fit online businesses! This means we have greater reach and can cast the net further afield, or maybe we want to remain local, but either way there’s flexibility to reach out too many and in a fraction of the time, at a much lesser cost on the budget. Surely this is a means to reduce the working week and still receive the right results to sustain our business!
  • What if our business is not as agile and cash rich? How could we contemplate introducing change and creating a lesser working week for staff and our business? There’s more to it than being agile and cash rich! What about business processes, systems, IT infrastructures, building infrastructures and the list goes on… all these factor-in. Can the average business, and new start-up businesses afford such radical change to prepare their business for a shorter working week! With the right change tools leveraging a shorter working week this could be a possibility?
Jessica Bailey Managing Director at Changetoolbox
Jessica Bailey Managing Director at Changetoolbox

I’ve mentioned but a few ways to look at implementing change and ideas to take to the board table, if you’re lucky enough to have one and If we acquire the right change enablers and guidance to facilitate these changes then why not scope out a shorter working week.

Of course, we can ill afford to overlook what is at the nub of this and to whom this will really affect, yes, our people?

Will it change the lives of our staff and offer them this utopia world? Will working a shorter working week really change the way we do business today?

Let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons of the future should we choose to go ahead and introduce a shorter, say four-day working week?

Pros:

  • Help save the planet with lower carbon emissions
  • Take the heat off annual pay rises, as a trade-off for lesser hours
  • Reduction in human capital expenditure with little-to-no impact of service provision
  • Free communication tools mean that we can achieve the same in less time & more cost effective
  • More time to care for independents and greater social time
  • Opportunity to review ‘staff rewards and benefits’ as trade-offs ▪ Embrace Social platforms to make them work harder in the workplace
  • A demographic workforce can be better accommodated for, holding onto all levels of talent
  • Greater affordability for SME’s to sustain their business
  • Increased career opportunities and employment for previously overlooked part-time workers

Cons:

  • Less expenditure to invest into the economy
  • Less pay for potentially the same amount of work
  • No significant impact on the overall job
  • No real significance that it has any impact on life satisfaction
  • Working harder with less hours and less pay!
  • Pressure to achieve, could impact health and wellbeing
  • Less time to train, develop and become skilled
  • Potential to have to work harder outside of work with no extra pay!
  • Expense and pressure to secure better internal infrastructures
  • Ambitious staff may find it harder to impress, with reduced hours

To sum up, do we have the right change enablers firmly in place to take our business and staff safely through this change journey and be able to offer staff a better life style and create a profitable and sustainable business!?

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