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Can a Four-Day Workweek Be the New Normal for Employees?

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Image: Aleksandr Davydov - stock.adobe.com
As the Great Resignation continues, enterprises are reassessing their employee experience strategies. To keep employees happy, enterprises might need to embrace a new level of flexibility that will change the nature of when, where, and how employees work.
 
One idea that might be becoming less radical is the four-day workweek, which was the focus of my latest WorkSpace Connect article. Recently, several companies, from tech startup Bolt to large electronics manufacturer Panasonic, are using four-day workweek schedules to improve employee wellbeing and productivity.
 
However, not everyone buys this working model as a panacea for employee productivity. Among the critiques: a four-day week creates problems like cramming five days of work in four days or adding extra work to prep for the day that you’ll be out. Bolt addressed this concern in their organization by hiring more staff to address the added customer service and risk operation needs and cutting down meetings. But some industries like healthcare might be harder — or impossible — to switch to a four-day a week schedule.
 
Beyond the four-day workweek, many employees are simply looking for more control over their time during their workweek, as workforce software provider Visier shared in a recent survey. Of the 1,000 full-time employees surveyed, Visier found that 39% of employees listed flexible hours ahead of a four-day workweek (24%) in terms of addressing employee burnout. Employees also said mental health resources/support (31%), paid sick days (25%), and wellness programs (24%) are other important tools to improving the employee experience.
 
In addition to flexible work schedules, enterprises are also looking to enhance the flexibility on where and how employees work (i.e., hybrid work). Many enterprises will revisit how they design offices and use physical spaces to boost flexibility. In another WorkSpace Connect article, I look at how behavior-based office design and a hub-and-spoke model for office locations can help provide employees with the tools to collaborate while also boosting flexibility.
 
With behavior-based office designs, enterprises can support a range of working styles from a single location. In a behavior-based office, employees will be able to work in quiet areas, phonebooth-style working pods (for isolated work), and areas equipped with the latest and great communication and collaboration tools like digital whiteboards to openly brainstorm with fellow employees.
 
Many of these workplace changes will require leaders from across the enterprise to come together and think creatively to address these issues. We’ve heard about the coming together of HR, IT, and real estate/facilities for some time now (see Cisco’s keynote from last year’s Enterprise Connect). But as we move into 2022 and beyond, this level of collaboration will become increasingly important as enterprises look to address employee experience concerns from a policy, technology, and workplace culture standpoint.
 
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