As we explored in our previous article, a four day week has been trialed by a handful of companies aiming to achieve a good work-life balance for their employees (*without reducing their pay). However, it may not be as simple as just offering your employees a four-day week in order to tick this employee wellbeing box. The type of tasks required from your employees and the expectations of your customer may prevent a four-day-week from being an effective solution and could even damage your business. So, instead of simply explaining how to transition into a four-day-week, we at TA have instead been exploring how to transition into a flexible way of working.
1. What type of work do you do?
Not every company is able to move to a different timetable. Emergency services, for example, cannot choose when they work. If there is an emergency, they need to answer the call. Before you even start thinking about a transition, you need to establish if a different timetable is plausible. Think: is your demand seasonal?
2. Can you afford it right now?
As with any change, time and money will be needed to make your plan a success. You will likely need a team of champions to dedicate a portion of their working time to implement the plan (internal and external communication is KEY). You may also need to provide support and training to help employees change their ways of working. Another thing to think about is if your current set up will support the flexible way of working (you may need to invest in new technology/software)
3. How will flexi-time affect your customers?
As a key stakeholder, your customers will still need to get the same level of service and time from you. If you are changing how they receive this service, it needs to be communicated effectively. You will need a strategy on how to provide the same level of service to customers and a communications plan to keep everyone up to date with how it will affect them.
4. What will you need to change internally to make flexi-time work?
Hundreds of companies have implemented flexi-time. In order to maintain/increase the productivity from employees, some have had to impose changes. For example, lose 20 per cent of holidays (one company moved from working five days a week with 25 days holiday, plus bank holidays to working four days a week with 20 days holiday, plus bank holidays). Another example has been to reduce an hour lunch break to 45 minutes.
5. Change management
Get the employees involved from the start. Would they rather give up 15 minutes of their lunch break everyday and have a lower holiday allowance in order to only work 4 days a week? Get them thinking about how they can work differently to do their role in 4 days. Provide support to help employees be more productive with their time, if needed.
Decide on a length of time to run a trial of your flexible working week. Decide how you will measure the productivity of individual teams and tell them what these are so they can plan their way of working through the trial (be careful when collecting data – you may need permission from your employees to collect certain data about them). Once the trial has finished, survey your employees and customers. Still not sure? Run another trial, but larger. Whilst you could assume employees would be all for a shorter working week, other companies have reported some of their employees feeling more stressed as they tried to squeeze their workload into less time. If this is an issue, what can you do to help them change their way of working?
7. Continuously evaluate and evolve.
Once implemented, internal and external influences will no doubt affect the success of your flexible working plan. Keep evaluating its pros and cons in order to keep your employees, customers and business happy.
As technology and job roles develop, it won’t be long until we see the end of the standard 9-5. With companies already adopting tactics such as the four-day working week (or thinking about it), these leaders inspire others to move into a flexible way of working.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week in November 2018, reporting a 20% rise in productivity.
Wellcome Trust discussed a trial of the four-day-week but decided not to go ahead in April 2019.
In 2014, the Swedish city of Gothenburg began trialing a six-hour work day for government employees.
So, should you do it? Read our discussion of the pros and cons for you and your company
Are you thinking of rolling out a new way of working within your company or are you an employee who thinks your job role could work flexibly? Head over to our social channels to join the discussion…
And we leave you with this TED talk from Andrew Barnes…
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