Ensuring productivity in the 4-day work week – IDG Connect

By Sean McCarry
IDG Connect |
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With the majority of employers in the UK believing that a four-day working week will become the norm before 2030, and with the UK’s biggest 4-day work week trial to date currently underway, it seems that change is afoot in the world of work.
The move to hybrid working, combined with a UK wide labour shortage and the Great Resignation, have led to a renewed focus on employee wellbeing – with the needs of workers becoming a front and centre consideration for employers. A re-evaluation of the everyday work/life balance is top of the list, and the 4-day work week is one of the most radical moves to address this concern yet. An ideal outcome would be a total transformation of what it means to work, where it is ultimately output rather than time online that is being valued.
As with any major shift, this will have significant impact on the workplace, and if employers are to reap the benefit of the new 100:80:100 model – 100% of the pay for 80% of the time in exchange for 100% productivity – they must be prepared. For the 4-day working week to be a success, employers need to pre-empt the challenges that might come from it and adapt their workplace accordingly.
Over time, many workplaces have found themselves slipping into an unhealthy and ultimately damaging culture of presenteeism. However, the fatigue caused by constantly working overtime, or working when unwell, can instead cause employees to be ultimately less productive. Feeling over worked not only contributes to the production of lower quality work, but in time can cause employees to quit altogether, as has been seen in the recent year. In fact, in 2021, 39% of employees cited working too many hours as a reason for their resignation.
The 4-day work week aims to combat this damaging culture by promoting the view that performance should not be measured by long hours in the office, but instead on output, productivity and quality of work produced. Preparing effectively for such a shift will start with embracing this approach to work and giving employees time to rest. Through this, companies can ensure not only better overall output but a happy and satisfied workforce willing to put everything into their job.
Whilst reducing the number of days in a working week is a great initiative from a wellbeing point of view, the obvious consideration is that employees are being given less time to reach the same goal. To enable maximum productivity, employees need to be working smarter, not harder, and it’s important that they are being provided with the right tools to do their job as efficiently as possible.
With one less day to work with, even small, repeated tasks can be made more efficient to help increase overall productivity. In processes that require the same action to be completed multiple times, (for example switching between tabs in spreadsheets), the time it takes to use the same keyboard shortcuts can accumulate to a significant chunk of lost time. By using peripherals that can be custom programmed to perform task-specific processes at the click of a button, (for example on the side of a computer mouse), employees can make small time savings that add up to larger productivity gains.
Along with customisable peripherals, it is also important to consider how employees are interacting with each other when working remotely. The offer of hybrid working has now become essential, and for this to work smoothly alongside a reduced working week businesses need to be thinking about the standard of their collaboration tools. Ensuring that every employee and meeting room is fitted with up-to-date and reliable video conferencing hardware, which uses the same consistent interface, overall makes for a more streamlined hybrid working experience.
Hybrid working and ‘work from anywhere’ policies have meant that employees are now often working in uncomfortable spaces not designed for work. This discomfort can wreak havoc on productivity, with aches and pains from poorly designed equipment breaking employees out of the all-important ‘flow’, which will be key to optimising the 4-day work week. Implementing ergonomic tools into the workplace will be essential for maintaining high quality output and keeping morale high.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is unfortunately a common occurrence in the modern workplace, with RSI research showing that 1 in 50 UK workers suffer from the condition. This is more often than not caused by repeated use of unergonomic computer mice and keyboards. Over time, this can lead to employees needing to take time off sick to recover from their RSI injuries.
However, there are steps that employers can take to ensure their employees do not become injured or lose focus because of how they work. Ergonomic mice and keyboards for example, that mould to the natural shape of the hands, such as vertical mice and curved keyboards, take pressure off the wrists and allow employees to type naturally without any break in their concentration.
Implementing a 4-day working week may seem intimidating to many organisations. With one less day, businesses might fear a drop in output that will leave them lagging behind the competition. However, if these organisations take the appropriate preparations to optimise the productivity of these four days – with ergonomics, customisable tech and a productivity-based approach – they have the opportunity to transform their organisation into a champion of employee satisfaction and productivity.  
About the author:
Sean McCarry is VC Commercial at Logitech. With 30 years’ experience in the technology industry, Sean’s passions lie with creating successful and scalable teams that deliver results in the business and digital transformation space. His enthusiasm for innovative technology and building strong sales propositions has led him to work with Logitech.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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