There's nothing natural about a seven-day week. The ancient Babylonians came up with it based on their mistaken belief there were seven planets, Quartz has reported. Nor is the five-day workweek any more sacred. As my Inc.com colleague Jay Love has pointed out, four-day workweeks can actually boost productivity and bring joy to employees.
All of which is interesting trivia, but you might respond--what about my customers?
Of course, some employees would love to find themselves with longer weekends, but won't those looking to work with my company get a little annoyed when they get in touch and no one is around?
Shorter Weeks, Longer Opening Hours?
Yes, of course they would. But switching to a shortened workweek for your staff doesn't mean hanging out a 'Gone Fishin'' sign for your clients, according to a LinkedIn column by coach David Stephens. In the piece, he outlines his experience working with one firm that seems to have found the secret formula to both a compressed workweek and greater availability for customers.
Many years ago, the company in question was keen to offer employees a four-day week and save on commuting time and costs, but at the same time needed to keep up with unusually high demand from customers. To solve this conundrum the leadership settled on an innovative solution.
"The entire company was divided into two teams for each work center--Team A and Team B. All teams would work 10 hours per day for their shifts. However, the days were staggered, but not in a typical way. Team A would work Week 1 from Monday through Thursday, while Team B would work Week 1 from Tuesday through Friday. For the following week, Team B would work Monday through Thursday, while Team A would work Tuesday through Friday. And then the cycle would start over again," Stephens explains.
For employees that meant "a true 4-day work week, PLUS it gave them a two day weekend followed by a four day weekend!" Meanwhile, the company managed to "be open from 7-6 Monday through Friday. This allowed better communication with customers in different time zones, and more work was accomplished." Everyone was pleased, Stephens reports.
One could imagine some complications or complaints around this system --the odd pattern of days off or extended workdays could be somewhere trickier for parents to handle when it comes to arranging childcare than a more conventional schedule perhaps, and complexities around arranging time off might arise--but if the idea were implemented in consultation with a willing staff it could have merits.
What do you think of this method of implementing a four-day work week?