A growing trend is business focus changing from their clients to their staff. This has been especially prominent after the recent great resignation. One of the many options available to businesses is to switch to a 4 day week instead of a 5 day week.
The 4 day week
The COVID-19 pandemic has had more impact on society than increased prices and the tragic deaths of many people. The pandemic has also influenced how businesses operate and how managers relate to their staff. Much of this is related to staff experiencing remote working − for many it was their first time. Remote working is not for everyone. However, those who flourished experienced the benefits of flexibility. Many staff members demanded a more permanent solution, hence the concept of the 4 day work week. A 4 day working week cuts the work per week to 32 hours for the same benefits and pay.
Researchers have indicated that productivity can increase with this new approach to work. It might seem odd – work less, and be more productive. However, what the studies found was that overworked staff members are generally less productive. More so, Perpetual Guardian Investment Solutions (NZ) conducted an experiment to test the 4-day workweek. What was found was that staff retained their productivity level; however, there was enhancement of the way in which they related to the company and in how they applied themselves in their roles. Therefore, teamwork, and job satisfaction increased, just by changing the work/life balance. Staff members were therefore less likely to leave the business, or to have mental-health issues.
Improved workplace equality
It is common knowledge that the workplace has a male bias. This was notable during the pandemic, when many women left the workplace. Schools were closed; many children were given their lessons via the internet. Someone had to remain at home and look after the children. Sending the children to care facilities was also not an option during lockdown; and many could not afford hired help. For these reasons, many women left the workplace. However, a 4 day week provides more time for childcare responsibilities.
This is not a one-size-fits-all approach
Such an approach would not work for every business. There is also the fear of what will happen to the lost hours. Although the concept is that people will be more productive, and will thus be able to make up for the lost time, this outcome is not guaranteed.
Impact customer service
An important part of business is to ensure good customer service. However, being closed for a day, or not having staff at the office can cause a negative response. Your customers might not see the value of work/life balance although you and your team might. The result is that your clients might move to your competition. This could hurt your business.
An alternative approach
There is, however, an alternative approach that can be used, involving outsourcing and virtual assistants. With this approach, the low-level tasks are outsourced to virtual assistant to complete. What this means for the business is that the onsite team can focus more on their core work, instead of wasting their time on repetitive and time-consuming work that can be conducted at a lower cost by someone else. Besides a spike in output, the core team will have an increased loyalty towards their employer.
The focus on the employee
With the costs of rehiring, maintaining staff is becoming more and more significant. Should the staff member fear or dislike their employer, they may work half-heartedly, achieving less. The relationship can sour and result in losses for both parties. More so, employees are seeking a role in which they can grow. If this is supplied they will not leave. Whether you use the 4 day workweek, or outsource and use a virtual assistant, or a combination of the two, your focus should be on having happy workers, who can deliver the goals, while growing as you grow.