Setting your team up for four-day work week success

Frank Weishaupt examines how adopting the right technology can support hybrid and flexible working trends whilst maintaining SME productivity and performance.

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With the traditional nine-to-five work week no longer fit for purpose, employers need to consider how they can introduce greater flexibility into the workplace through initiatives such as the four-day work week and split shifts. A robust tech stack will play an important role in setting teams up for success. 

Despite a backdrop of return to office mandates from the likes of Amazon and Google, the Flexible Working Bill achieving Royal Assent will mean that millions of British workers will have greater flexibility over when and where they work. This is likely to prompt employees to further adapt their working routine to best accommodate their lifestyle, allowing them to work from a preferred location, or work around their family and caring responsibilities. 

The four-day work week has struck a particular chord with British workers following the success of the four day work week trial, so much so that nearly two thirds (65%) are willing to take a pay cut for the four-day workweek according to Owl Labs’ State of Hybrid Work 2022

The demise of the nine-to-five

Workers have proven they want flexibility with over a third (37%) of employees prepared to refuse a job offer if an employer does not allow flexible working hours according to Owl Labs’ State of Hybrid Work 2022. What’s more, a further 34% would decline if working from a flexible location was not permitted. Family and caring responsibilities, health conditions, working from a preferred location and commuting costs make up just a few reasons why employees want to work from anywhere, adopt flexible schedules, or introduce the four-day work week. 

While many employers are pushing for return to office mandates, these are based on traditional expectations regarding the working week. As it stands, 81% of office workers believe they are just as, if not more productive while working remotely compared to working from the office. Enabling teams more autonomy over how they  structure their day to suit their workloads can also drive  productivity. For example, tasks that require individual focus time, such as administration or writing, could be scheduled for work from home days whereas collaborative tasks such as brainstorming meetings are often best done in person, something we call task-based hybrid working. 

After experiencing flexible working following the pandemic, workers want to move away from the traditional nine-to-five routine and explore alternative trends which suit their lifestyles and responsibilities outside of work. This is where businesses hold the key to enhancing their employees’ work-life balance.

Empowering communication and collaboration

When adopting flexible working policies such as the four-day work week, businesses need to be well-equipped with the suitable technology. Moving to a new style of work should prompt IT teams to review their tech offering to create the most immersive and efficient flexible work environment possible, supported by 47% of managers who believe their teams could use hybrid meeting technology more effectively. 

Depending on the type of business, it may not be possible for everyone in the company to take the same four days off, or everyone in the same function. It’s therefore crucial that hybrid work equipment continues to facilitate communication and collaboration, as well as omit any technology disruptions. For instance, IT teams could consider AI software which bolsters asynchronous work, such as a chatbot which can answer more straightforward IT FAQ and allows IT teams to focus on more complex requests.  Similarly, asynchronous collaboration tools can allow different teams to pick up activities while other members are off.

By leveraging technology to facilitate asynchronous work during the four-day work week, businesses can ensure employees remain productive despite working to different schedules, allowing the organisation to work flexibly.

Calendar cleansing

With fewer days in the work week, businesses need to work smarter, not harder. There are a multitude of alternative methods of working which can result in the same measure of employee productivity in a shorter time frame. For example, teams could start by having a ‘calendar cleanse’ to free up a day from unnecessary meetings, or consider which can be replaced with a written update.

Additionally, streamlining administrative processes by implementing automated software such as Microsoft Copilot, which can analyse Excel data, draft meeting notes, and help reword text, can help employees optimise their time. Alternatively, going back to the basics and simply collaborating to identify less time-efficient activities such as double reporting can allow employees to focus their attention on more dynamic tasks during the reduced work schedule.

It is paramount that all levels, from C-suite to juniors, can reap the benefits of flexible work while maintaining good standards of productivity, performance, and efficiency across the business. To successfully implement the four-day work week, businesses need to ensure they are able to adapt to  more flexible ways of working. This means implementing a strong tech stack that provides tools to help with streamlining communication and administrative tasks, while ensuring employees work more efficiently, rather than longer hours. By taking all of the above factors into account, businesses can ensure their employees are satisfied with any new changes, and the transition is seamless.

Head shot of Owl Labs CEO, Frank Weishaupt
Frank Weishaupt - CEO of Owl Labs

Frank Weishaupt is CEO of Owl Labs, a startup specifically founded to support the trend of hybrid working by providing more efficient video conferencing.

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