When I tell people we’ve had a 4 Day Week since 2011, I think it’s fair to say most people are surprised, impressed and feel a glimmer of hope. There’s hope that the future of work is headed in a more human, happier and healthier direction.
REST AND RECOVERY
It’s easy to see how the 4 Day Week has been good for our wellbeing. An extra day of rest and recovery to ourselves. Who can argue with that?
The 4DW has naturally taken our productivity to another level too. Rest and recovery are important for good productivity. With a shorter week, we benefit from what I call “Pre-holiday and Post-holiday feelings”.
PRE-HOLIDAY PRODUCTIVITY BOOST
We all know that pre-holiday feeling, where we sense that every hour counts but that we can’t do it all. The 4 Day Week is like a deadline which forces us to prioritise, it pushes us to focus and to be ruthless with how we protect our time and attention.
POST-HOLIDAY PRODUCTIVITY BOOST
And after our three-day weekends, we naturally benefit from a “Post-Holiday Productivity Boost”. We return refreshed, re-energised and ready for action. More open to ideas and opportunities. Making decisions, solving problems and handling the next fire from a place of perspective and clarity (rather than from a place of tiredness, stress, overwhelm or low morale).
As you can imagine, we’re also less likely to leave or to be ill, are more likely to be happier and more engaged at work, and to be proud of where we work. All of this is good for the bottom line (check out Gallup’s 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis). All of this is easy to predict and to understand.
What many people are quick to quite rightly ask though, is:
“Yes, but how do you fit five days of work into four?”
They often go on to say, “I’d find it more stressful” and “That wouldn’t work for us – even five days isn’t enough.”
THIS HERE, this very question, is the key to unlocking the true glorious potential of the 4 Day Week.
Certainly, I’ve heard of companies who have made the 4 Day Week “work” by squeezing the same volume of work into fewer days, and by taking a more draconian approach to break times, social media use, office watercooler chat or personal appointments.
Essentially, giving with one hand and taking with the other. This is a wasted opportunity to fully open the door to the many other ways in which the 4 Day Week can bring unprecedented productivity and wellbeing transformation.
In a world where the work never ends, rather than jumping blindly into another week of pointless meetings and endless emails, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves:
“How do I really make space for what matters?”
Is checking your emails again for the third time this hour really the best use of your time?
When is your proactive attention at its peak? Are you protecting those couple of hours a day from distractions and using it to do your more complex, deep work – the stuff that really adds value? The high impact work, which is not only challenging and satisfying, but which helps move you and your organisation closer to achieving its goals.
Are you taking a step back each week, to review your projects and commitments and to go into “boss mode”, strategically deciding when and what needs to be progressed? Are you empowering your team to ask similar questions? If properly supported by management, the 4 Day Week can give you and your team permission to think in this way, in terms of impact.
When a colleague asks “Am I really needed at this meeting?” or “Can you help me prioritise my projects”, I know we’re doing something right.
FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY
We have the freedom and responsibility to structure our workdays, to look at them strategically, to decide when we want to collaborate, when to take breaks (because listening to your body and giving your brain a break is the smart thing to do) or when to go offline or to work remotely. All of this within the boundaries and needs of the team and business of course. And we are trusted to do it. Trust is key here.
So what we’ve opened the doors to here is higher quality productivity, going hand-in-hand with deeper wellbeing. We trust and empower each other to make space for satisfying, higher-impact, good work that creates value. We all crave this fulfilment and respect. In our experience, the 4 Day Week is a wondrous, virtuous circle of deeper wellbeing, authentic engagement and higher quality productivity. And we’d never go back.
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