A good starting point is to consider the following 3 cons of the abbreviated working week and proactively develop mitigation or adaptation strategies for each of them. It’s no surprise that these revolve around planning and communication.
#1 Con: difficulties in balancing shift patterns
In some workplaces, certain days are prized for on-premises work, while others – such as Fridays – are more likely to be taken off to create a longer weekend. The presence of too many or too few personnel in the office could throw a wrench in finely balanced processes.
The solution: Ensure transparent, continuous discussions within teams – followed by careful workforce planning – regarding when employees are expected to be on site, off site, or working remotely.
#2 Con: less time to get things done
It’s a fact: in the reduced hours scenario, fewer hours in the work week necessarily means a shorter window for employees to accomplish their goals and objectives, potentially leading to productivity loss.
The solution: Apply a concrete goal-setting framework, such as OKR or SMART, to break tasks into more easily manageable goals, fostering more efficient planning and clearer outlooks.
#3 Con: unsuitable for some industries and roles
Another fact: the human brain is limited when it comes to concentration time. An overbooked – or overlong – schedule may lead to reduced productivity, diminishing returns on effort applied, and even burnout, in the long run. In some settings, such as healthcare and education, it may be infeasible for parents or caregivers to accommodate 4-day workweeks or school weeks.
The solution: if you’re unsure whether your sector and/or employee working patterns are compatible with reduced hours or a 4-day work week, launch a pilot project for a subset of employees, or implement a limited trial period of a handful of months. Carefully gather feedback from your employees about what works and what doesn’t – and why – and tweak your approach accordingly.