Some of my clients recently have been trialling a 4 day workweek. While some have been successful, others have struggled to roll them out correctly. Here some learnings I have gleaned from those that have struggled.
1. GOING ALL IN, RIGHT AWAY
Instead of switching the entire company to a new work schedule, start by testing the approach using different models within different departments. For example. maybe one team takes Thursday afternoons off and another takes off Fridays. Find out what is the best model for your business and industry.
Ideally, companies should test the concept for at least two quarters. Companies can also ease into new workflow models by testing meeting and email free Fridays, which can allow employees to do focused work or have flexibility to take personal time.
2. NOT BEING CLEAR ON THE “WHY”
Before changing to a shortened workweek, research the key factors that are driving the need for a new plan. Companies often that cut down employees’ work time without first optimising efficiency are bound to fail in this initiative. If employees are spending the same amount of time on each task and meeting, a shorter week will only push them to work remotely during the given day off to make up for the loss of time.
3. AVOIDING TRANSPARENCY
Do not avoid telling your clients. All stakeholders don’t need to be part of the decision, but they should at least be aware of the transition. Clients or people that are any part of your supply chain should know because it may affect your timelines.
When you alert clients, I suggest in communication going along the lines of “We want to preserve a top quality team to better serve you. We are going to test a four day workweek.”
Remind clients by having employees set calendar blocks and use their email signatures to clearly define their working hours.
4. HAVING UNREALISTIC KPIS
Clearly define what success will look like. Individual roles should have an output number that indicates success. For example, a salesperson may be expected to make 40 sales calls a week and convert 10 of those. During a four day workweek, an employee may only make 30 calls and land 5 new clients.
Every week, do a quick 15 minute meeting checking in on the KPIs and on the culture of the four day workweek. Then every month, have an hour long meeting to bring together the data. Where are you up? Where are you down? How do you address it? At the end of the first quarter, bring all three of those reports from the longer meetings together and create a best practices report.
5. USING A FLUCTUATING STRUCTURE
If your company is in an industry where you need to be available for clients five days a week, you may not be able to give every employee the same day off. Instead of fluctuating days off, however, it’s best to keep to a regular schedule. Most people would prefer having the same day off each week so that they can plan around it for other activities. Employees may not be as engaged if the day was always different.