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Contemplating A Four-Day Workweek? Keep These Considerations In Mind


Traditionally, businesses have operated under a 9-to-5, 40-hours-a-week, five-days-a-week model. However, more companies are experimenting with shorter workweeks to boost employee productivity and overall wellness. So far, the research supporting this theory is promising: A study of Iceland workers recently found that a four-day workweek led to greater productivity than the standard five-day model.

If you’re contemplating moving your team away from the traditional five-day workweek, you’re not alone. However, it’s important to think through the logistics of this arrangement to ensure it will make sense for your company. To that end, the members of Forbes Business Council shared 15 considerations you’ll want to keep in mind before making the leap.

1. Give Your Team Latitude And They Will Outperform

I think business now operates 24/7 year-round, so the need for a traditional workweek is pointless. I have found that when you give your team the latitude to work how they want (within reason), they always outperform because they are grateful for the flexibility. I am all for this so long as projects are getting done as expected. Carpe Diem! – Bob McIntosh, 3 Degrees Consulting

2. Have Clear Employee Metrics

As companies move away from focusing on time spent in the office or at work to output, it’s increasingly important that they have clear ways to measure employees. All employees should understand what metrics or deliverables they are responsible for and know when they are hitting those goals. – Sara Mauskopf, Winnie

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3. Keep Productivity At The Center

Productivity drives results, not the number of hours spent at the office. To consider alternative scheduling, keep productivity at the center—and that is not limited to the number of units of products made or shipped. Consider how effectively we serve all our stakeholders, from employees to partners, customers and investors. Measure value delivered, not hours in the office. – Sid Mohaseb, Anabasis, Inc / Venture Farm

4. Consider A Hybrid Model

It’s actually quite simple! Happier employees means better productivity at work which also means more successful companies! I work in staffing and recruiting and see the candidate burnout firsthand this year, especially as companies ramp up. Many businesses are focused on a hybrid model, in addition to the four-day workweek, to help alleviate the chronic stress that leads to burnout. – Brittany Harrer Dolin, The Pocketbook Agency

5. Use A Shorter Workweek To Improve Mental Health

The rise of mental health concerns and crises like burnout is too rampant to ignore. When we hear the average American leaves part of their work undone every single workday, it seems counterintuitive to consider reducing work hours. But what if the lack of productivity was a function of poor mental health and chronic stress? If so, a shorter workweek can help. – Paden Hughes, Gymnazo Inc

6. Establish Clear Expectations

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Ultimately, if employees can be more productive by using their “work” time more efficiently and are able to switch off when not at work, the model itself can work. Expectations have to be made very clear by us as management, as well as regularly evaluated. Some industries can handle unlimited flexibility, while others will struggle. – Andreas Johansson, Berkovitz Development Group LLC

7. Blend Work And Life Goals

I believe that the future of business leadership is when there is a blend of work that fits into our life goals. It’s not about hours on a clock, it is about showing up when needed and stepping back when not. – Karen Mc Dermott, Serenity Press Pty Ltd

8. Give Employees Time To Disconnect

Studies have shown that employees disconnect from work only after 48 hours. Having an extra day to disconnect improves productivity, increases talent retention and boosts creativity and problem-solving capacity. – Ahmed Shabana, Parkpine Capital

9. Be Clear On Team Outcomes

Companies moving to a four-day workweek need to be very clear on the outcomes they want from their employees. At the end of the day, you employed them to deliver outcomes, not to do tasks. This minor shift will make the team more effective and efficient, even if they are working fewer hours. It will ultimately create a win-win situation, as both the employer and employees will get what they want. – Nneka Unachukwu, EntreMD

10. Focus On Productivity, Not Days Worked

For me, it is not important whether it is a four- or five-day workweek. Productivity of workers is most important. Ultimately, it comes down to whether they can achieve their goals and business KPIs in a shorter week so their organizations can meet client commitments. – Kumar Parakala, GHD

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11. Manage Expectations Of Everyone Involved

Great performance relies on managing the expectations of key stakeholders, the customer, the employees, the employer, the suppliers and the list goes on. Have you adequately considered the impact on key stakeholders? Plan (research), act (if appropriate), monitor (determine how you will measure success) and review (it’s never too late to change). Adaptability and flexibility are key. – Marian Evans, Elevate BC Ltd

12. Start With A Pilot Program

Plan a pilot to evaluate the impact on your organization before a full deployment. Every company is different with unique business processes and key performance metrics. Prior to the pilot, clarify the policy—then monitor overall productivity, revenue growth, customer satisfaction and employee engagement levels. After a three- to six-month pilot, evaluate these metrics to make a data-driven decision. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5

13. Focus On Employees’ Strengths

Break tradition to achieve higher productivity, increase employee satisfaction and decrease burnout. In a global economy, where people work virtually across multiple zones, business leaders should focus on the innate strengths of their employees to build better solutions for their customers—and that does not take a five-day-week rigid structure. As Microsoft found, a four-day workweek increased productivity by 40% in Japan. – Silvia Mah, Ad Astra Ventures

14. Empower Teams To Organize Their Time

Business leaders should remember that work should not be organized by hours, but by objectives. The focus needs to be placed on output rather than input, where results count more than hours. Employees should be given the flexibility to organize their own time to meet their goals. Whether they work 20 hours per week or 80 hours per week, what matters is reaching the targets that have been set. – Johan Hajji, UpperKey

15. Remember Employees Are Your Greatest Resource

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I think the concept of a condensed work schedule and running against socio-cultural artifacts (five working days) will eventually be experimented with by all the leaders. But what business leaders tend to do is bypass their greatest resource: employees. So planning and structuring an organization around new work schedules without bugging the productivity of your talent pool is the big cheese here. – Saikiran Chandha, Typeset



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