Want More Productive Employees? Implement A 4 Day Work Week

August might seem like an odd month to talk about productivity. After all, we are knee deep in the dog days of summer when everything seems to slow down and offices empty out as people head off on their annual summer vacations.

Well, I think this is the perfect time to talk about productivity. Who doesn’t want to get out of work early to enjoy some extra downtime? While we’re at it, who would rather work a four-day week year-round?

Me, for one! And I bet a lot of you would prefer to work just 4 days a week, too. If you have your doubts about the wisdom or plausibility of moving your organization to a 4 day work week, I totally understand – it seems radical. But it could actually make your employees happier, more engaged, and more productive.

The reason is simple: People need downtime to be productive – and this is scientifically proven. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that “brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.” You can read more about their findings here.

Additionally, the International Game Developers Association (yes, there is such an organization!) found that “long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime…. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error.” Again, you can read more here.

What does this all mean? Overworked, tired employees make more mistakes, are less creative, and work more slowly. Want to give the 4 day work week a try?

Create shifts

If you do need people onsite 5 days a week, let your employees work together to figure out shifts to ensure there’s always someone available to answer the phone or handle vendor and customer questions.

Judge work based on quality, not face time

If someone can get all of their work done perfectly well in 4 days, great! They’re productive – reward them for that and not by how much face time they provide.

Allow employees to work from home or remotely

The beauty of working without colleagues stopping by to chat is that you can get a lot of work done faster. You can also take breaks to walk the dog or run an errand.

Eliminate management

Wait, what? Yes, eliminate management. Everyone should be a do-er, including management, churning out the products and providing the services they were originally hired to do.

If you have considered a 4 day work week, what has stopped you?  If you have already implemented a 4 day work week, what benefits have you enjoyed?  If a four day work week is not an option right now, what could you do to reduce a few hours at least occasionally to see if any of these benefits can occur at your office?

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