Mention a shorter work week to anyone within earshot and no doubt you'll hear a resounding "Amen!" 1 in 9 Americans work 50+ hours per week as per The Center for a New American Dream. Compare that to 1 in 81 in Sweden and 1 in 152 in the Netherlands and it's no wonder so many of us are stressed-out and exhausted.
Working fewer days per week is not just something to dream about while you ought to be filing reports and crunching numbers. There are already employers switching to a 4-day work week model and others thinking about doing so. Why? The benefits are powerful and enhance the lives of employees and their employers as well.
A shorter work week is valuable to take into consideration if you're the boss and something to bring to the table with these 3 benefits to back you up if you'd like your company to take this notion seriously. 3 day weekend… here we come!
Better for Overall Health
When we're overworked, tired, and stressed, health inevitably takes a toll. As per Healthline, "Numerous reports and studies have shown that the expected pace put upon the U.S. workforce is to blame for many health issues that plague adults today. These include sleep issues, obesity, and an overall weakened immune system. Cut back the work week by a day, and we could see significant improvements in our physical and mental health."
With health issues like these so prevalent in our work-centric society, people are taking more and more sick days, or come into the office when they're not at their mental or physical best. Time isn't of value if the employee isn't able to produce as well as they want or are able to. This can lead to even more stress, creating bodily illness and mental strain – a vicious cycle.
That cherished extra day of free time clears the mind and allows the body to recuperate. Employees will have the chance to focus on themselves for 24 more hours so that while they're at work, they can give their all to the job at hand.
Even though the employee will be spending fewer days at the office, it's been shown that their work effort and output is actually higher with a 4-day work week. As per Joseph Chris Driving Business Connections, "Employees return to work more refreshed after a 3-day weekend. They even make it a point to work very hard during the compressed week, so that they will not lose the privilege of a four day work week system. When staff is pumped up to go back to work, they tend to be more productive. This results in more output and higher company revenue."
Employees appreciate this benefit and are more inclined to be sure everything is complete and done well so they can take full advantage of this arrangement. They are happier and more willing to work together to keep the system in place. This is a win-win for the employee and the higher-ups.
Plus, with this 4-day work week program, each day will include more hours in the office to compensate for the missed day. Therefore, as per WiseStep, "Because employees spend continuous hours at work, they do not miss the flow of work or get distracted to leave for home. They get enough time to complete the task in the same day rather than passing it off to the next day. 10-11 hours of work (per day) motivates the employee to finish the task the same day with full concentration."
Enhanced Work – Life Balance
Naturally, a 4-day work week allows for a better work – life balance. People can spend more time with their families and doing things they enjoy such as hobbies, exercise, and vacationing outside the office. As per The Center for a New American Dream, 59% of employees say their jobs do not leave them with enough time for themselves and 75% feel they do not have enough time with their kids. A 4-day work week system would surely change these percentages for the better.
Although you may get home later or need to head into work a bit earlier on the 4 work days, an entire full day of free time more than makes up for it. No interruptions and no work worries. Joseph Chris notes, "(A 3-day weekend) gives employees more relaxation time with family and friends, and whatever errands they were unable to do during the work week they can accomplish during the weekends. If anyone wants to escape the fast-paced life even just for a while, 3 days would be enough time to unwind and rejuvenate."
As far as the employer's benefit, Nevada Small Business notes, "You're likely to attract more highly qualified new hires who view the four-day week as a major lifestyle benefit. Plus, because of the longer work day, employees miss the standard morning rush hour, getting to work early and staying later. Less time in traffic – a big plus."
Who's not interested in a 3-day weekend? These 3 benefits are no-brainers and make sense for the worn-out worker. Let's all move to the 4/3 plan and improve health, wealth, and life in general!
Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.
What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.
The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.
There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!
Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.
Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.
That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying
the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.
This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.
Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.
That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?
Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."
In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.
We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.
As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.
What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.
The rising trend of pet-friendly offices is part of the effort to incentivize employees to come back to work in person. Many companies completely embraced the remote-friendly convenience of WFH. Digital nomad culture emerged and “second cities” arose when people exited New York, San Francisco, and LA, and headed to Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh.
But now, employees and employers have a choice to make. The question now is: to return or not to return to the office? This is no longer about forcing employees to commute. Post The Great Resignation, employees feel more empowered to leave in-person positions and seek out remote jobs. So if offices want people to return, they’ve got to do a ton to entice their employees.
Some huge companies with giant operating budgets are not worried. With major perks like shiny facilities and full-service food bars, they feel comfortable requiring in-office work days — even if it’s for a hybrid week. But the solution might be simpler: pet-friendly workplaces.
The Allure of Pet-Friendly Offices
According to the Washington Post, pet-friendly workplaces are becoming a common solution to improve employee morale and appease the rising number of pandemic pet owners. “As offices start reopening and thousands of workers are being called back for the first time in two years, some companies are allowing employees to bring their pets. About 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many workers say they find pet-friendly environments an important perk for their new furry family members. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, owned by Mars Inc., showed that 57 percent of the 1,500 pet owners polled said they would be happiest returning to a pet-friendly workplace. Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office. Tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.”
With so many people adopting and fostering since the pandemic, becoming a pet parent is a trend. And to welcome these new additions into people’s lives, it makes sense for some workplaces to welcome them into the office.
After spending unlimited amounts of time at home, many pets grew greatly attached to their “parents” — and pet-parents feel the same about their pets. Rather than keeping them locked in the house while their caretakers head off to work, this is a mutually beneficial solution to the current separation anxiety faced by pets.
Pets have also been shown to boost happiness in pet owners. According to heart.org, “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.” Most likely, this might have a similar effect on people who bond with animals at work that don’t even belong to them, lending an overall mood boost to the office.
The controversy behind pet-friendly workplaces
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the prospect. Some would rather keep the office separate from their personal lives. Some are allergic to pets. And some people simply don’t like animals.
Offices considering pet-friendly policies are weighing the pros and cons to keep everyone happy. According to the Washington Post, clear guidelines and communication can increase the chances of success.
“Before making the jump, pet experts say that leaders should first understand whether their employees have interest in, or strong feelings against, having a pet-friendly office. Doing an anonymous survey may allow employees to freely share thoughts on the matter.”
Overall, the key to a policy like this is flexibility. “Be ready to adjust: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be ready to listen and adjust their policies as they go. What works for one office may not work for another, but experts say proper planning can lessen much of the burden.”
Ensure your office is actually suited to the pets you want to welcome. “A well-developed pet-friendly office should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means companies should consider blocking off areas that could be dangerous to pets as well as making sure pets have access to clean water, food, and places to rest.”
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