Anyone who has worked the standard 9-to-5 grind every day has probably daydreamed about a four-day work week. While there are certainly advantages to implementing that plan, such as improving health and overall happiness of employees, many companies still prefer the traditional work week.
The surface level perception is that if employees are working fewer hours, less work is getting done, which means less money is being made. However, some companies are taking the risk and learning that it has the complete opposite effect. This revelation could bring changes to California’s employment laws when it comes to new protections for workers.
The kickstart of a corporate revolution
Per Fast Company, Microsoft tested a four-day work week in its Japan office, which resulted in a whopping 40% increase in work production. New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian made a permanent switch after seeing vast improvement in production, now providing workers a standard three-day weekend.
This change has resulted in employees:
- Meeting goals in reduced time
- Having an improved work-life balance
- Being given more trust and autonomy to do their jobs
- Maintaining salaries to promote feeling valued
Flipping the script so employees have a say
Colorado social impact generator Uncharted took the bull by the horns and asked for the help of employees in pinpointing how to streamline the workday, to accomplish more in less time. They wanted to see what would happen if employees had a 32-hour workweek, instead of the traditional 40-hour workweek. As it turns out, there are a lot of unnecessary activities that go on during the day designed to make employees better workers, but just ended up making them less productive. By streaming their workday, Uncharted discovered their employees:
- Were better focused on completing tasks. Not subjecting employees to interruptions means an individual is able to maintain his or her natural workflow rhythm, which can be tough to get back once broken.
- We better able to prioritize and make decisions. When you feel constrained for time because you have to fit workplace activities into your daily schedule on top of your workload, you may cope with getting the job done by just powering through. Having more of that time dedicated to just performing your job may allow you to relax and see the big picture so that you can complete tasks in a sensible fashion.
Choosing the right four-day work week is a must
Something to keep in mind is that a four-day work week and a 32-hour work week are two vastly different concepts. While both offer what amounts to an extra day off, cramming 40 hours into four days rather than five could put an even deeper strain on employees’ health and posing greater risk of injuries. Doing more in less time can make the job more stressful, and that stress can trickle down into employees’ personal lives, rendering the benefits of the extra day off moot.
In sum, a shorter work week might not be beneficial to all employees, especially if the pay is prorated. Employers who are considering the switch would do well to ask their employees, and to take note of their input as they test the new system. They could also consider more creative options for flexibility within the work week, such as remote working opportunities or incentives for taking time off.
The Los Angeles employment law attorneys of McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP understand that your job is important to you, and that you have a right to a safe working environment. If your rights have been violated by your employer, we are ready and able to help. Please call 310-474-1582 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.