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The Daily Aus

How companies are switching to 4-day work weeks

Transcript —

Okay … you might not want to get this on record yet …

It\’s 2022. And the workforce, as we know it is changing.

For centuries, workers have been fighting to try and get more of their life back from their jobs. The early days of the Industrial Revolution, there was no weekend. People had to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day. They worked and then they died.

Now, 75 years after, the 40 hour week became the norm. The modern workforce is changing again. And with it comes a radical approach to shorten work weeks by a whole day.

You are f ing mad that.

All that\’ll never happen in my organization or that\’ll never work.

But it is working. The biggest trial of its kind is already underway in parts of the UK, US, Europe and even here in Australia.

Essentially we wanted to change the game.

We\’ve been experimenting with very flexible ways of working. We were already all working from home a few days a week.

We\’ve tried to find efficiencies in what we do so that you come to work, walk for days very productively, and then you have a three day weekend.

Now a long weekend every week sounds pretty great, but is it practical?

You know, we have seen this implemented in hundreds of companies around the world. Michelin starred restaurants to nursing homes, to tech start ups.

And they\’re going about it by using a variety of four day working models.

The 180 100 principle is this concept that we will pay people 100% of their salary for 80% of the time, with the expectation that they will deliver 100% productivity.

So definitely about working smarter. Productivity has actually gone up and people are coming back much more energized, much more refreshed and very thankful of the initiative.

And for some, a shorter workweek has enabled them to pick up a few extra skills.

I decided that I was going to use that time to start my own little business. I went and did my boss certification, which is a combination of yoga, pilates and ballet. So I do coaching on Fridays. I\’ve really just filled my week with more work, but it\’s something that I really enjoy.

One of the biggest things is getting that pesky admin out the way, which generally takes up your whole Saturday or Sunday. So you\’re grocery shopping, Medicare, going to the bank, lighting up at service in New South Wales.

But what does work across the board? What about a hospital worker or nurse? How would they do a four day workweek?

Issue of scheduling workers is not at all a barrier to making this happen. Health care facilities work on 24 seven basis, so for them, there\’s no unique scheduling challenge of moving to a four day week. Same goes for hospitality or retail or other services that don\’t operate on a sort of 9 to 5 Monday to Friday basis.

But surely a four day workweek means a drop in overall output.

We are performing and we\’re achieving our financial targets as a business, which which to me is a sign that we are very productive, even though we\’re all working for days now.

Plenty of these companies find that they actually are at least as profitable or more profitable than they were working five day weeks, because they don\’t just manage to do five days worth of work in four. They get other kinds of efficiencies that come from lower turnover, less spending on recruitment and so on. That helps boost their bottom lines.

The key thing they all have in common is recognizing that thanks to our improved productivity, we don\’t have to work as much as we used to.

We can make it work for 150 staff worldwide. You know, there\’s no reason why a majority of businesses can\’t make it work.

But most employers in a whole range of industries services, manufacturing, construction, professional services with billable hours are going to say, no way, I\’m not going to pay people five days, pay for four days work. Employers are going to have to be pressed by workers, by unions and by governments. You know, how did we get to a weekend and a 38 hour workweek?

We didn\’t rely on enlightened employers who thought that would help them meet their financial targets.

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments if you\’d like to work a four day workweek and how you feel. Your weekly long weekends. You\’d be surprised how quickly it adds up.

If you assume that people work 50 weeks, if you move to a four day week, you\’re gaining another 50 days off. And so every five years you are creating a whole new extra year of free time that you didn\’t have previously. And I think a lot of us, if we were given the gift of another year, would see that as something pretty special.

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