How employers can optimise productivity in the 4-day work week

With more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies currently in the UK’s first 4-day working week trial, it seems that change is afoot in the world of work

A day’s less work has been but a dream for many up until now, where the 100:80:100 model – 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for 100% productivity – is actively being considered as an option.

The combination of the Great Resignation, the hybrid working revolution and a labour shortage has led to a workplace where the needs of the employee are becoming a front and centre consideration for employers. The demand for a better work/life balance and the drive for better wellbeing initiatives is top of the list, and the 4-day work week trial is one of the most radical moves to address these concerns yet. The trial is an enlightened evaluation of what it means to work, but for the trial to be a success, employees need to make sure they can be as productive as possible in a shorter amount of time.

Productivity, not presenteeism

Over time, many workplaces have found themselves slipping into an unhealthy and ultimately damaging culture of presenteeism – especially in industries with high competition between employees. However, feeling over worked not only contributes to the production of lower quality work, but in time can cause employees to quit altogether, as has been seen in the recent year. In fact, in 2021, 39% of employees cited working too many hours as a reason for their resignation.

The 4-day work week aims to combat this damaging culture by promoting the view that performance should not be measured by long hours in the office, but instead on output, productivity and the quality of work produced. By embracing this approach to work and giving employees time to rest, a company can ensure not only better overall output but a happy and satisfied workforce who are willing to put everything into their job.

Empowering employees to work smarter with innovative tools

Whilst reducing the amount of days in a working week is a great initiative from a wellbeing point of view, the obvious consideration if that employees are being given less time to reach the same goal. Working smarter, not harder is one of the main messages underpinning the 4-day work week movement, and it’s important that employees are being provided with the right tools in order to do their job as efficiently as possible.

With one less day to work with, even small, repeated tasks can be made more efficient to help increase overall productivity. In processes that require the same action to be completed multiple times, the time it takes to change settings and use the same keyboard shortcuts can accumulate to a significant chunk of lost time. By using peripherals that can be custom programmed to perform task specific processes at the click of a button, employees can make small time savings that add up to larger productivity gains.

Along with customisable peripherals, it is also important to consider how employees are interacting with each other when working remotely. For hybrid working to work smoothly alongside a reduced working week, businesses need to be thinking about the standard of their collaboration tools. Poor audio and video quality are responsible for longer and more protracted meetings, wasting time in an already shorter week. Ensuring that every employee and meeting room is fitted with up-to-date and reliable video conferencing hardware reduces this risk and makes for a more streamlined hybrid working experience.

Ensuring every day is focused and comfortable

Wherever they are working from, it is essential that employees stay focused and comfortable when working. Aches and pains from poorly designed equipment can break employees out of the all-important ‘flow’, which will be key to optimising the 4-day work week. Implementing ergonomic tools into the workplace will be essential for maintaining productivity.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is unfortunately a common occurrence in the modern workplace, with RSI research showing that 1 in 50 UK workers suffer from the condition. This is more often than not caused by repeated use of uncomfortable computer mice and keyboards.

However, there are steps that employers can take to ensure their employees do not become injured or lose focus because of how they work. Ergonomic mice and keyboards take pressure off the wrists and allow employees to type naturally without any break in their concentration.

A glimpse of the working future

In the present moment, implementing a 4-day working week might seem intimidating to many organisations. With one less day to work, businesses may feel they could be lagging with a lower output and less dedicated employees. However, if these organisations take the appropriate steps to optimise the productivity of these four days – with ergonomics, customisable tech and a productivity-based approach – the opposite can be true, with happier employees and better work.

About the Author

Sean McCarry is VC Commercial at Logitech. Logitech is a world leader in products that connect people in a natural, intuitive way to the digital experiences they care about. We develop our products with a powerful blend of artistic design, surprising science, and innovation driven by consumer insight.

Featured image: ©Yuri Arcurs