Published: Sep 18, 2018
I’ve always been a fan of the four days on three days off schedule. I’m not talking about shift work; that’s another thing altogether. But the idea of a shorter work week is an enticing concept to consider.
I realize that college isn’t real life, but I often reminisce about the Monday through Thursday class schedule that left Fridays open. Friday was the most productive day because I’d settle in at the library and crank out 90 percent of my assignments. It was the best. But then, graduation came along, and I joined the workforce. As you all know, schedules don’t typically work this way out in what I call the real world.
But what if they did? I’m not longing for a three-day weekend; but what if Friday was widely adopted as a “catch-up day?”
At the beginning of the month, in honor of Labor Day, The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace launched “The Case for a 4-Day Workweek?” – a survey exploring how employees (nearly 3,000) across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. view their work. The researchers set out to discover how employees spend their time during business hours and if working 40 hours a week is the most effective schedule.
The survey revealed thought-provoking results.
Just shy of half of full-time workers (45 percent) say it should take less than five hours each day to do their jobs if they work straight through with no interruptions
Most full-time employees (75 percent) report that they have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks, and yet, nearly two in five (37 percent) exceed 40 hours each week
Hmm. If people feel they have enough time, why are they working overtime? The U.S. came in first for the most overtime with 49 percent, followed closely by India at 44 percent, Mexico at 40 percent, and Germany at 38 percent.
It turns out that unrelated tasks and administrative work impact efficiency for both individual contributors and people managers, but the biggest time-waster depends on who you're talking to:
Baby boomers say they waste the most time solving problems that they didn't create
Millennials place blame on social media and agree with Gen X that meetings are a time-suck
Part-time employees waste more time resolving problems caused by other people and handling customer issues than full-time employees, while full-time employees are twice as likely to waste time in meetings
What if baby boomers decided to be more selfish on Fridays and focus only on their own work? What if millennials set a goal not to touch social media until 5:00 p.m. on Fridays? What if everyone avoided sending out Friday meeting invites – unless faced with an ASAP, emergency situation?
Maybe it would be a smarter work style, or maybe not. I don't doubt that numerous individuals reserve a "catch-up" day during the week, but it can be difficult to maintain if others around you aren't doing the same thing.
According to executive director Joyce Maroney of The Workforce Institute, the biggest take away from this research isn’t that a shorter work week is the answer to our prayers. It's that organizations must help employees to reach their full potential:
“...Organizations must help their people eliminate distractions, inefficiencies, and administrative work to enable them to work at full capacity. This will create more time to innovate, collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and serve customers while opening the door to creative scheduling options, including the coveted four-day workweek.” – Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute