A trial of the 4-day working week commenced last year in the UK, and 90% of participating businesses have opted to stick with it.
This has naturally created interest around the prospect of a 4-day working week and what this might look like, with one statistic standing out: a recent poll led by Hays discovered that almost two-thirds of workers would prefer to shift from a 5-day week to an office-based 4-day week – and a third of employers would be more likely to make the switch if all four days were spent in the workplace.
So, could this be the ‘Great Resolution’ that employers have been searching for?
It is no secret that since emerging from the pandemic, many employers have been resistant to embedding hybrid and remote working models into their business practices. But after many attempts to rope employees back into the office, the dust seems to finally be settling, with hybrid work looking like it’s here to stay. And yet now, with the possibility of a 4-day week being adopted, is this going to be used as an opportunity for employers to strike a deal with their workers?
Well, some evidence suggests it still may not be enough. For one thing, over a third of workers have said they would resign if they were told to return to the office full-time. And the reason for this can be found in IWG’s ground-breaking study, which discovered that hybrid workers are the healthiest workers – they are exercising more, sleeping better, and eating more healthily than ever. It’s not surprising, therefore, that employees are reluctant to return to in-office full time.
But it seems, at the root of this tussle, that there is a bigger issue. Employers are seemingly suffering from what has been dubbed ‘productivity paranoia’, in which they are convinced that their employees are not being as productive working from home as they would be onsite.
A study by Microsoft confirmed this, with 87% of hybrid employees claiming they were more productive, whereas only 12% of leaders said they had full confidence that their teams were actually being productive.
However, by consistently demonstrating this lack of trust in their people, leaders risk having a negative impact on productivity and engagement. According to a study in Harvard Business Review, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement and 40% less burnout.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship – especially those formed in the workplace. It is clear that most employees have the means of being just as productive from home as they do in the office, so their willingness to have a 4-day work week solely in-office may be driven by a desire to rekindle a trusting relationship with their boss than a concern for their ability to do the job.
The bottom line, however, is that as the prospect of a 4-day working week – remote, hybrid, or in the office – inches closer to reality, it is important for employers to consider how they can optimize this to attract, retain and motivate the talent their organization needs.
If you would like support with managing hybrid working policies, as well as solidifying trust into your organization’s culture, please get in touch with us here.