In a post-pandemic world, many businesses have chosen to continue operating remotely so as to allow their employees to work from home or from their chosen location. Others introduced flexible and hybrid models, and many began finding new ways to encourage work-life balance and better support workers' mental and physical health.
Another movement that has been gaining traction since the pandemic is the four-day workweek. Several companies have begun trialing this working model, while some countries have already gone as far as to put this into legislation.
Whatever the case may be where you are, if you’re considering moving your remote business to a four-day workweek, you might be wondering how to go about this. You might also be considering using a four-day week as a way of introducing new hybrid models and slowly encouraging staff to come back into the office.
Well, in the initial stages, this change can feel daunting, but if you follow these steps and make these considerations, you can make the transition as smooth and successful as possible.
Focus on the why
First and foremost, you need to think about why you’re planning the move to a four-day workweek. For example, is it to increase employee well-being? Or perhaps you want to boost operational efficiency?
Another reason is that you might simply want to encourage employees to come into the office more often instead of being 100% remote. Although you don’t expect your employees in the office every day, you may have decided that a hybrid approach works better for both parties.
As the world returns to normal in a post-Covid era, some organizations may find that there is no need for fully remote roles anymore. Yours might be one of them. Therefore, you might want to move to a four-day workweek as a compromise, as a way of creating a truly flexible working model that benefits both you as an employer and your team. But this also sends a clear message that employees should come to the office some days to collaborate more effectively and possibly meet with their customers or colleagues face-to-face when needed.
Whatever the case may be, you should spend some time thinking about this. As with practically everything else, there are pros and cons, so you need to ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons. This will help you to get the right strategy in place, set goals, manage employee training, and track results.
Get all leaders involved
Next, you need to gather your leaders and discuss the logistics and impacts that a shorter week will have for them. You need to discuss how this will impact each team, manager, stakeholder, client, and customer.
This is an opportunity to get everyone on board and to ensure that they understand the benefits of a four-day week while giving them a chance to ask questions, discuss concerns and strategize what they need to do differently.
Speak with HR
If your remote business has an HR team or even just an HR representative, they will need to be heavily involved in this process. It’s important to look at how a four-day week will impact important aspects, such as wages, annual leave, and other employee benefits.
It’s also important to discuss the new rules, policies, changes to insurance, and other requirements that surround working a four-day week. It could be you or your HR representative that begins creating these policies. You also need to begin thinking about schedules if your employees work shifts or if you manage multilingual remote workers. You could start drafting possible schedule models at this stage and looking at when people need to be in the office and when they can work remotely.
Ask your employees for feedback
Before you start actually making scheduling changes and re-writing policies, it’s a good idea to find out what your workers think about a four-day workweek. Most employees are likely to be on board with this, as this offers them even more flexibility in their careers.
That being said, some may have concerns about fitting their workload into a shorter week. Therefore, it’s a good idea to circulate a survey that allows your employees to give honest, anonymous feedback. You might wish to include questions like:
• How do you feel about the idea of a four-day workweek?
• Would you be happy to work an extra hour each day if it meant you worked fewer days?
• Do you have concerns about a four-day week? If so, what are they?
• Which day(s) would you like off?
• What’s the best way to schedule days off to ensure fairness?
These are just a few ideas of questions you can include in your survey, but getting feedback from employees can help you to implement a strategy that will be beneficial for both parties. It also allows you to address any of their concerns.
Explain how employees can get the most from their time
One of the key concerns for workers, and possibly yourself, is how they will get their workload done in a shorter space of time. But the reality is that workers on a four-day week often report higher levels of productivity (as much as 20-40% higher, in fact)
Nonetheless, there are little ways you can help your teams be more productive and teach them to manage their time as effectively as possible.
Firstly, you could introduce new tools that can help them manage their workload better (if you haven't already). These could be project management tools or video conferencing platforms. These are all particularly important for hybrid workers who need to be able to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues from different locations.
You should also help to free up their schedules by having managers review their daily job responsibilities. They can then instruct them to get rid of any low-priority or outdated tasks. You should teach your teams to re-prioritize their to-do lists.
As we mentioned, encouraging them to come into the office in person at least once a week can also help them get more from their time. It is more efficient for collaborating in real-time and can give them a dedicated day to complete certain tasks.
Finally, you need to reduce the time spent on meetings, something which can take up a lot of time each week for remote workers. You can do this by evaluating how frequently team meetings or calls are taking place and how long they last. Find ways to make this shorter, such as encouraging emails or instant messaging via Slack or Microsoft Teams rather than meetings wherever possible.
Pick a date it will go into effect
Once you’ve begun preparing your team for a four-day week, it’s a good idea to get a date set in stone. This will give you and your workers some direction and can help you to start setting your goals. This also means everyone will be aware of when these changes will go into effect.
Let your customers and clients know
Then, when everyone within the organization is on board, it’s time to let your customers or clients know so they can adjust their expectations accordingly. You can inform them of your new opening hours via email and possibly even share your reasons for moving to a four-day workweek model.
You should also inform them or have your employees inform their specific clients of when people will be in the office, the best times to call, and the best times for face-to-face interactions. This can make the adjustment period much easier for both sides.
Keep track of your goals and KPIs
Of course, to ensure that this business model is helping and not hindering your business, you need to regularly review your goals and check that your teams continue to reach KPIs.
It’s important that you're still hitting your business goals, so if you notice any dips in productivity or morale, it’s vital to gather more feedback from employees and find out what’s going on. For instance, employee learning and development should not suffer simply because everyone is no longer in the office together as before.
This will help you to get a four-day week strategy in place that sees your remote business and its employees thrive as a result.
You might wish to move to a four-day workweek as a compromise, or as a way of creating a truly flexible working model that benefits both you as an employer and your team. Here's a reminder of some of the most important items to check off your list:
- Consider how a four-day week will impact wages, annual leave, employee benefits, and working remotely.
- Think about schedules if your employees work in shifts or manage multilingual remote workers.
- Reduce the time spent on meetings, something which can take up a lot of time each week for remote workers.
- Promote learning and knowledge-sharing with a flexible, scalable, and easy-to-use Learning Management System.
Doing these will enable you to implement a four-day workweek strategy that will benefit both your remote company and its workers, and will increase the likelihood of this move being a success.
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