So you’re thinking about taking back your Friday? At M&P we’re always brainstorming new avenues for adapting as the needs of our clients and our staff evolve. In places like the Netherlands and France four-day work week legislation was passed decades ago and many companies, large and small, are witnessing the benefits of more flexible work schedules. Gen Z and millennials as well as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are able to pinpoint the rewards of a four-day week when it comes to mental health, time spent with family and physical wellness.
A whitepaper published by Henley Business School reveals interesting statistics garnered from surveys of 2,063 UK adults from varying age brackets and walks of life. The study also interviewed C-suite business leaders and subject matter experts.
What Does Taking Back Friday Look Like At M&P?
For our team the four-day work week isn’t black and white. It’s not simply a matter of working frantically Monday through Thursday, completely dismissing emails over a three-day weekend or secretly working on Fridays to keep co-workers from feeling guilty.
A four-day work week is about a thoughtful departure from the “norm” or grind. It’s about listening to our bodies, taking the time for personal growth and ridding ourselves from guilt when we do, in fact, need that extra day to rest or recover from whatever life has thrown in our direction.
For our Co-Founder Kaitlin McMillan Friday is often a day that she reserves for the projects that bring her joy — namely photography. On Fridays Kaitlin can be found immersed in an M&P-related project that gets her outside or into a creative studio where she acts as creative producer.
Harvard Business Review found that 75% of Gen X and Gen Z survey participants were using the extra time to “upskill, volunteer or build side hustles.” For some the four-day work week seems to be more about breaking up the monotony rather than relaxing and we find that to be damn refreshing.
Pitfalls and Solutions
For some, there is skepticism around four-day work weeks so we’ve rounded up a few of the most common concerns and solutions for tackling them.
“I am worried that three days may be too long for some clients to go without hearing from our team.”
From the perspective of a client-focused agency there is concern that the customer suffers from a four-day work week. The client may have concern about a lapse in communication or confused by the idea in general. To combat concerns companies are turning to two approaches that may mitigate confusion or frustration. The first is a communications-based solution. Simply communicate to your client why your team operates within the structure of a four-day work week and plan accordingly. The second option is to have some employees take off Fridays while others take off Mondays. This ensures that there is someone around during “normal” business hours to answer questions and put out unforeseen fires if and when they arise.
“I am concerned that I’ll be perceived as lazy.”
For many offices that are multigenerational this is a valid concern. For Baby Boomers and Gen Xers working 40 hours per week or more was and remains the norm. It’s crucial to include the entire team in conversations about transitioning to a more flexible work week. It is here that bringing up the perception of laziness is critical to all-staff support. Basecamp CTO David Hansson makes a good point about this exact concern stating that we need to learn how to make the hours we have really count rather than tacking on more, less productive, hours. Making the most of your workday is crucial to a four-day work week.
It’s also important to point to companies that have found success within the structure of a four-day work week. Companies like Microsoft, Shake Shack and Uniqlo have all attested to the benefits of shorter work weeks.
“I am concerned that our team won’t be able to complete our work on time under a flexible work week.”
Limit time spent checking email - Reducing interruptions during your workday can allow you to check off more from your to-do list and open the door for a more flexible and productive work week. If you’ve ever found yourself checking your email mid-project only to find yourself completely sidetracked and running down a rabbit hole then you aren’t alone. Putting into place an “email checking” schedule that you and your team strictly adhere to can help minimize distractions that lead to missed deadlines.
Be honest about the number of meetings your team is having - Another option is to put the kibosh on unnecessary or overcrowded meetings. Implementing a system where key takeaways from meetings are recorded and sent out post-meeting is a simple tactic for keeping meeting attendance to a minimum while increasing efficiency.
Consider ditching interoffice messaging platforms - While this may have some of you gasping in disbelief services like Slack can be a timesuck. For many they are constant distractions and keep people from focusing on the task at hand.