There has been quite a lot of focus on the future of work as we progress through the pandemic and into the uncertain times that lie ahead. One of the things that is gaining attention is the idea of a 4 day work week.
As of January 1, 2022 TMS Americas moved to a 4 day work week. Basically, what this means is that a full time role in TMS Americas consists of 4, eight hour work days each week.
I/we did a fair bit of investigating this idea before making a decision. I also ‘kind of’ experimented with it myself last year by allocating my Friday’s to more development work than direct client or management activity.
One of the things that became very clear with this investigation was that a 4 day work week is a ‘work in progress’, it’s not for everyone or every organization and it will take time to get used to. We are a small organization and have been virtual for over 18 years and most of us have been working less than 5 days anyway. Given this, we had much more flexibility than many organizations, so our transition was probably much easier than it would be for others. Easier does not mean any less consideration is needed!
Another thing that became clear as we considered this shift was that the reasons for doing this are highly subjective. There is not yet clear evidence that a 4 day work week does anything of value for the people of the organization or the results they produce.
Of course there is no clear evidence that a 5 day work week does anything of value for the people of the organization or the results they produce either!
And interestingly, it was this point that actually tipped the scale in the decision making process for me!
We had looked at the potential mental health benefits, the potential benefits to innovation, work life balance, efficiency and focus. We had considered the negatives of added costs, potential customer service issues, work overload in the 4 days and the potential added stress of feeling we should be working more.
All of these were important, very important. Yet what has become increasingly clear in so many discussions about the future of work is that we (especially management) ASSUME what we have done in organizations for so long is the right way to do things. And there is no evidence to support this! The same can be said for virtual work, culture, learning, management practice etc. etc. etc.
So the decision to shift to a 4 day work week became less of a why and more of a why not? We liked the potential benefits and worked to figure out how to mitigate the negatives and here we are!
So as all of us engage in (or are forced to engage in) the changes that the future of work will thrust upon us; keep in mind the ‘why not’ question more than the ‘why’ question.
Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss our transition to a 4 day work week or other topics on the future of work!