13 October 2017
Would you be more productive if you worked a four-day week? I was straight back to business this morning with a call from BBC Radio 5 Live. The station was discussion the option of working hours. New research has shown that productivity is down and there are calls to reduce the working week by a whole day.
It’s an interesting concept, but would it work across the board? Would businesses pay teams the same salaries for four days or would it be pro-rata? Could everyone take the same day off? Would we do the same amount of work but in less time?
There’s no denying that we would be better people if we had more time with our families and friends; we’ve seen the impact first hand here at UKFast. Not so long ago, we cut our working day from a 6pm finish to a 5.30pm finish. It effectively added an extra 3.5 weeks holiday to each of the team every year. The results are undeniable, but for me the bigger question is why people are unproductive in the first place. I think it’s because companies are creating these austere, oppressive workplaces that put too much pressure on people with little reward. We need to create work environments that people enjoy being in.
Reducing working hours
We spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third of our lives at home and a third of our lives at work. Why would we not want to make the most of that time?
That’s why at UKFast we have a gym, a crèche, a steam room, chill-out zones, sleeping pods and a gaming loft. We try to make it a home from home, so that people enjoy being here and can maintain their energy and productivity throughout the day. And whilst it’s nowhere near the finished product, it’s working! We’re growing fast and our team is happier than ever – we were named the fifth Best Workplace in the UK by both The Sunday Times Best Companies and The Great Place to Work Institute.
It was interesting to hear from one of the other speakers on 5Live this morning, Sarah. Sarah worked part-time for many years before moving to a full-time role within the business. She found that some people who work Monday to Thursday were leaving tasks for those working a five-day week to pick up. To her, it became an unsustainable situation and a frustration she wouldn’t want to see across the board. Cutting working hours can’t mean people offloading to others – that’s not going to help anyone be more productive.
In my opinion, taking a whole day off the working week is unlikely to increase productivity. It’s a wider issue of creating better workplaces and looking after people better. If productivity is down, you can’t just cut hours and hope that fixes what is a wider issue of disengagement.
Ultimately, it’s about finding what works for you and what works for your business. It’s not always as easy as a blanket approach of cutting to four days; every person and every business is different.