What’s Stopping Organisations From Moving To A Four Day Working Week? by Kelly Swingler

At The Chrysalis Crew we welcomed in the new year by starting a four day working week (being paid for five days) and we’ve never looked back. 

Despite all of the positive aspects that other people were reporting, it wasn’t easy to make the transition because all of us are used to working five days and feeling guilty if we don’t, with many of us having been used to working in excess of 70 or even 80 hours a week - we’re told we need to do more if we want to succeed at work.

We’re a small team and all of our clients work five or even seven days a week, so we knew that we would need to be flexible, and for the first few months, if a client suggested a meeting or call on Monday we were saying yes, but then working all week, because that’s what we thought was right.

Guilt played a huge part for some of the team by not working on a Monday also. It’s a day we ‘should’ be working, so how would we fill the time instead? We had to be doing something, we couldn’t just take the day off, especially when our families were at work/school. The need to be busy doing something is a core driver to many health issues, physical and mental. The want to be successful is also driven by the lie that we need to work longer and harder.

We wanted our people to make the most of this three day weekend, but it was a while before we all adjusted.

Eight months in, and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.  

Are we going to say that we never work a Monday? No.

Do we still work flexibly? Yes.

And during the week we still operate flexible working, working from home and whatever works best for our team members. We knew it would be trial and error, we knew it might not work, but we won’t ever be going back to a five day week.

That’s not to say that as we continue to grow we’ll always be closed on a Monday, if new team members want to work then and not on a different way in the week, we’ll see what we can do, we’ll continue to adapt and do what works best, but for now it’s working and we love it.

There’s so much in the news and on every social platform about moving to a four day week, and we realise that it won’t work for everyone, but it could and perhaps should be more of the norm than it currently is. Or, if not a four day week, more flexibly to allow our people to work when they want giving the freedom to drop kids off, get to the gym or just have a lazy morning when the need arises.

In response to the news articles I’ve seen comments along the lines of ‘that’s fine, let all of my competitors move to a four day week and I’ll work six days a week to crush them’, ‘a four day week is dictated by businesses and isn’t always what’s right for our people so we won’t be considering it’, ‘it would never work for our customers’ and ‘it doesn’t make business sense’.

What’s wrong with these statements is a lot of what is wrong in business. Not considering the needs of people, not speaking to people to gain their input and opinions and not paying any attention to the wellbeing of people and putting profit before people. This type of work ethic is not healthy, and it’s not sustainable.

The ever evolving world of tech means that more and more people don’t ever switch off from work. The employers who stop or delay the sending of emails outside of work are on the increase as they realise that people need a personal life and some time to recharge, if for no other reason then just that their people are more energetic and switched on the next day.

But what’s really preventing a lot of businesses from moving to a four day week is fear. Not the impact on people. Not the impact on customers. But fear of not making enough money. Fear of the competition. Fear of being seen as weak if we say we want to work less. Fear of what to fill our time with instead. Fear of not being successful if we slow down a little. Fear of making change. Fear that customers will go where there is a five or seven day operation to meet their needs. Fear on the impact of profits. Fear of performance decreasing.

None of this has been true for us.

So the sooner we stop hiding behind ‘our people don’t want it’ and start accepting that it’s through fear of loss, then the more honest, open and transparent we can become and the sooner we can start to find solutions that work for our people and the performance of our organisations.

 

The Business Transformation Network has posted this article in partnership with Chrysalis Consulting.

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Kelly Swingler is the Rule Breaker and Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, The People and Change Experts and was appointed as the UK’s Youngest HR Director.  Kelly is passionate about helping people find bespoke people solutions to suit the needs of their business and is driving our mission of inspiring and empowering 10,000 HR professionals in 2018. She is the author of Fostering a Mindset for Career SuccessAGILE HR and what’s your excuse for not Overcoming Stress and speaks at many events on the Future of Work.