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  • Writer's pictureAnnija Vītoliņa

4 skills you need for 4 day work week

If you are reading this blog post, the topic of 4 day work week has found its way through to you too. And it is no surprise as the trend continues to reach new heights in popularity among governments, businesses, and social media.

Graph with two keyword popularity - 4 day work week & 32 hour work week
4 day work week trend's growth

Source: Google Trends

Switching to four day work week

Even though some consider the switch unrealistic, the overall interest has emphasized the need for Henry Ford's 5 day work week practice to be adapted to the modern-day generation and worker preferences.

But despite the four-day work week trend placing the primary focus on employee wellbeing, employers are trying to figure out the best way how to realize the change while maintaining the businesses running with equal productivity as so far.

For many companies to do so, adaptations in the company's culture, structure, and operations must be made. Above all, this will only be possible if the workforce has the appropriate skills to support the change.

And by keeping our hand on the trend's pulse, we have determined the 4 skills which provide a solid foundation for the 4 day work week implementation (skill source - WEF taxonomy):

  1. Time Management and Prioritization

  2. Collaboration and Productivity Software

  3. Managing Quality

  4. Adapting to Change

Keep your 4 day work week productive and effective: time management and prioritization

Person sitting at the computer and planning time for meetings in calendar
Time management during 4 day work week

Source: Unsplash

Entering the shorter work week form, the most significantly affected resource is time as the week gets cut from 40 to 32 hours. To keep getting the same amount of job done in a shortened period of time, the key is increased efficiency which can be achieved by having good time management and prioritization skills. Here are some examples of activities that help regain time wasted during the workday:

  • The first step for each individual would be getting used to daily planning and goal setting. It has many benefits, but to keep it short - it keeps one on track and consciously pushes to achieve key results.

  • To follow up on daily planning, learning how to prioritize tasks based on their value or time sensitiveness is crucial. There are many frameworks available for that task, including the famous Eisenhower matrix.

  • Learning how to structure your day so you can reduce switching between different tasks and contexts. Interestingly, it is amongst the most popular habits that decrease employee efficiency.

  • Canceling unnecessary meetings, reducing default meeting length to 30 minutes, always having an agenda, and generally reducing the number of meetings scheduled - such changes can have a large effect on productivity.

Make communication and information access effortless: collaboration and productivity software

The people shaking hands
Collaboration and productivity software during 4 day work week

Source: Unsplash

The key to successful collaboration and any relationship in general is - communication. As a matter of fact, good internal communication can improve an organization's productivity by 25% - exactly what's needed for compensating the eliminated workday!

What we understand with good communication is: 1. doing it only when necessary and 2. keeping it short & specific. And looking at examples of effective collaboration in different organizations, many denote software being the key success factor.

When looking for the right software or collaboration approach in general, take into consideration:

  • Use the planning environment & work management tools to keep track of timeframes and deliverables, plus avoid miss-scheduling or overplanning. And there are some good ones already existing that can be used here to start with.

  • Take advantage of sharing schedules/calendars for effectively knowing when to reach out and plan meetings during the 4 day work week without any unnecessary communication.

  • Use the latest tech for internal communication (e.g., Slack or Teams) and create clear internal communication guidelines for your platforms (ex., different communication goals -> different channels, relevancy of cc-ing someone in an email, avoiding parallel communication, etc.). This also might include some guidelines for communicating on days off while being in the workweek transition period.

  • Adopt a file-sharing ecosystem with easy access to necessary documents to reduce time spent on sending and waiting for files through emails.

  • Investigate which tasks are done repetitively and see whether they can be standardized and automated. Eliminating manual and less-important tasks can significantly save time and allow workers to focus on tasks that require human intervention.

Pursue improvement in 4 day work week: quality management

Two people on a room behind glass with computers discussing work
Quality management during 4 day work week

Source: Unsplash

On a mission to improve productivity and adopt 4 day work week, your whole organization needs to really work on improving processes, products, and services. And that's hard to achieve without proactively seeking enhancement in whatever your workforce is doing.

Quality management might be a hard process to generalize, yet there are proven ways how you can encourage desirable behavior:

  • Make sure your employees know different frameworks and practices for quality management - there have been plenty of organizations that have invested a great deal of resources to excel at quality management. Learning about their experience will be a good starting point for outlining the importance of quality management.

  • Your employees are usually the first ones to notice that something is not working right, especially when switching to four day work week. However, frequently these cases go unnoticed. There should be a clear process for calling out things that do not work and responding to these requests. Ensure you have this process in place, and your employees know about it.

  • Understanding and being open to failures is an essential part of learning how to improve and directly helps implement new ways of working. Are your employees open about their failures? Is your management speaking openly about what did not work out? Celebrating and encouraging to share failures creates a space where everybody is welcomed to develop. Think about which processes and attributes you have in place that welcome deconstructing your defeats.

  • Organize regular events to remind about continuous improvement, celebrating small and big wins of your colleagues. Such events should empower everyone to really think about changes they can make to improve either process or themselves - and eventually make 4 day work week a reality.

Transiting to new ways of working: adapting to change

One arrow pointing to the right while many arrows pointing to the left
Adapting to change during 4 day work week

Source: Unsplash

While growing evidence suggests that 4 day work week has more benefits than drawbacks, managing this change and adapting to it becomes a truly demanding task. And rightly so - to adapt to new ways of working and increase productivity, we usually need to change our behaviors and habits.

These activities might help manage the transition to four day work week and make sure it stays there:

  • Discover different change models and see what are the most important counterparts of managing change. Make sure you and your colleagues know the theory behind what makes a successful change so that you can use it and follow it effectively.

  • Set the right expectations for yourself and others. Dealing with change, even a positive one, almost always is accompanied by discomfort. Make sure everyone understands the logic and expected outcomes for switching to new ways of working - it will help you lead in the toughest moments.

  • Change usually comes with stress so it's important to introduce stress management techniques that can help your team cope with it - including regular mindfulness practices like meditation and reflection. This should support employees maintain higher levels of productivity to get work done faster.

  • Stay connected to your colleagues and over-communicate. Each of us generally has a different speed of accepting the change. Make sure everyone knows the relevant information on carrying out the change and feels connected to the objectives. This will mobilize teams to provide results and increase the chance of carrying out a successful transition to 4 days work week.

There are many more details regarding preparedness which can vary from business to business depending on the field it is operating in. But what we know certainly - for an organization to be able to give up one working day, the primary focus during preparation should be placed on the organization's employees and their skills. If the workforce's skill levels are sufficient, adaptation to 4 day work week will happen with significantly smaller “turbulences”.

And if you are feeling skeptical about the switch to 32 hour work week, we encourage you to read up on some great case studies - like Scoro's!

Let us know about your experience with workweek changes, and feel free to share your tips in the comment section!

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