The concept of the routine five-day working week followed by a (well-earnt!) weekend, was developed by Henry Ford in the 1920's.
Prior to this, factories traditionally operated for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with workers showing up from anywhere between 10 and 16 hours a day.
Over the years, the 40-hour working week has developed as standard with most of the western workforce now used to getting the Monday morning blues, and counting down the hours until Fri-YAY.
While five-day weeks are standard in the corporate world, developments in technology, particularly the convenience of the Smartphone, now give employees 24-7 access to their jobs. It appears ‘innovation' is currently leading the workforce closer to the industrial revolution working hours they came from, rather than further away.
But are we heading in the wrong direction?
Rather than increasing our time in the office, should we be scaling back even further to a four-day week rather than the five days we’ve all become accustomed to?
Here are seven reasons that ‘less is more' in the workplace, and why four-day working weeks should be the way forward.
1. Increases staff productivity.
This might seem counterproductive to the CEO who wants butts on seats but regular three-day weekends will make staff more productive. You know yourself how much more energy you have after a long weekend, imagine if that was every week!
Currently, those precious two days off are spent catching up on chores and trying to maintain a social life, and when you have a busy job that you also need to unwind from, it's just not enough time to fit it all in.
Having a third day off will allow employees to relax more and return to the office with more energy, vitality, and ready to smash some goals. And not just once, week after week!
- Reduces staff turnover.
Staff turnover can be a company's biggest expenses. Introducing a four-day working week will reduce turnover as staff are more energised, enthusiastic, and know that their employer has their best interests at heart.
A four-day week is an attractive benefit for staff and will encourage them to stay loyal to the company.
2. Increases staff creativity.
Regardless of the industry or niche, it's important that a company prioritises their innovation and development if they want to stay ahead of the competition. When team members are well-rested, their creative juices flow more freely which helps them use their imagination and think outside of the box. The forward thinking new ideas which are a result of this creativity are the ingredients that will propel a company to the top of the market.
3. Helps build stronger communities.
Work-life balance is an important concept for raising healthy and connected families and joining communities. Implementing a four-day week will show that a company prioritises this holistic lifestyle and places emphasis on the importance of community.
4. Reduces the cost of sick days.
Let's face it, there isn't a full-time employee in existence who isn't occasionally tempted by a sneaky sick day as the alarm clock blares in their ears at 6.00 am on a cold and wet morning. A three-day weekend will naturally reduce this temptation as staff are more rested and have the luxury of time out for themselves during the week. The cost of planning a four-day week compared to having to pay for unplanned sick days will be far less in the long run and can be factored into a company's budgetary forecasts well in advance.
5. Reduces procrastination.
The introduction of a four-day week wouldn't necessarily mean that there was less work for staff to do. The roles and responsibilities are likely to remain the same. What it does mean is that knowing that a three-day weekend is waiting for them once they finish their work, staff are less likely to procrastinate.
Procrastination is one of the biggest productivity killers in the workplace and giving someone an incentive to work faster, harder, and smarter is one of the best ways to beat it to get the most out of an employee.
6. Reduces burnout.
Burnout occurs when staff members are busy, overworked and stressed out for a long period of time and it takes on the form of a breakdown. Staff burnout can leave companies open to the cost of extended periods of sick leave plus the shortfall of having to fill a role with no notice.
When working at an increased pace for five days in a row, with only two days' recovery time, burnout is common. With more time to recover from a busy four-day week, burnout rates will reduce saving a company money and time in the process.
A four-day week may, on the surface, appear to cost a company money in the short-term. In the long run, however, it will have the opposite effect and save a company money. Staff will have more energy which will make them more productive and give them the drive they need to play their part in taking a company to the next level.
There's no doubt that four-day working weeks are the way forward. So now all we've got to do is convince our bosses...easy, right?