It’s Hot Mike and I’m Nidhi Rajdan.
How would you feel if your company decided to give you a nap during office hours and reduced your work week from five to four days? In the post-epidemic world, many companies are actually redesigning the workplace and believe it or not, these are now the real impetus for retaining talent. Many of us have been working from home for the past few years and for a lot of people, it was a discovery to see the balance of careers. Flexible work has given us more time to be with our families without the stress of physically traveling to the office building. Because of this, with the re-opening of the post-Covid world, many organizations are doing what they can to make workers’ lives more comfortable and work-life balance balanced. So recently, a start-up in Bangalore announced that half an hour a day would be set aside for power nap for its employees in the office. The company was called Wakefit Solutions and they took to their official Twitter account to post two pictures detailing the right to nap. Their co-founder recently sent an internal email to staff announcing that they would now be able to get a quick nap between 2pm and 2:30 pm every day. And then there’s the idea of a four-day work week, which is now steaming up in many countries. Importantly, it will be without any pay cut.
So is the four-day work week going to be the new normal? Well, several companies worldwide have been shutting it down for a year or so. And indeed the Japanese government has recommended it as a national policy. This is not a new concept, but it seems to have come to the fore in the aftermath of the epidemic. In fact, during the second wave of Covid last year, there were some Indian companies and start-ups that temporarily launched a four-day work week for their employees. These companies include, for example, advertising agencies such as Swiggy, DDB Mudra and MullenLowe Lintas and OYO. There is a Bangalore-based Fintech start-up that has come up with a dramatic alternative to their talent growth, which is a three-day work week. The proposal is an attempt by Indian companies to acquire more technological talent in deficit. Fintech company Slice is offering new recruits, paid at a rate of 80% of the ongoing market rate for three days a week. Now, those who support the move cite research that says working four days a week instead of five actually increases productivity. In Iceland last year, researchers found that a four-day work week without pay cuts improved workers’ well-being and productivity. Over four years, the researchers tracked 2,500 workers who reduced their work week to about 35-36 hours.
Now, according to a study published by Autonomy, a UK-based progressive think tank, researchers have found that workers’ well-being has increased dramatically – from stress and laziness to health and work-life balance. So, which country is doing it? Well, Belgium has introduced a four-day work week for those who want it. However, employees do not work less. If they want to reduce their working hours in less days. So they will be allowed the flexibility to decide whether they want to do it four days a week or five days a week. Scotland is already experimenting with a four-day work week from January this year. In fact, it was an important promise of last year’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s parliamentary election campaign. Participating companies and firms are doing a shorter working day, again without any loss of pay. Ireland is conducting similar tests, while Spain has begun testing a three-year, 32-hour work week as part of the country’s economic recovery from Covid. Microsoft tried a four-day work week in Japan in 2019, which resulted in a 40% increase in productivity. So it was even before Kovid hit. And since then many other organizations have followed suit. Unilever, for example, announced last November that it would launch such a schedule in New Zealand and then replicate it if successful some time later. More than two-thirds of companies believe a four-day weekend proposal will be essential to future business success, according to new research from Henley Business School in England. In fact, researchers had already conducted a study on the subject in 2019, but then reconsidered it in November 2021 after the Cowid crisis. They surveyed more than 2,000 employees and 500 leaders in the UK and concluded that a four-day work week had a positive impact. Mars 78% of employers say workers were under less stress at work, which increased 5% from 2019, and a clear majority 70% agree that shorter work weeks improve their quality of life, while more than two-thirds think their mental health is at work. Was improved with flexibility. So, do you want to work four days a week? The choice may be yours. But speaking from experience, I can tell you that this is a great way to work.