With more employers offering workers the ability to choose a hybrid schedule of in-person and remote work or complete remote work, the question of whether to uphold the traditional 40-hour workweek is a conversation some businesses are beginning to have. On one hand, the past few years have shown that business output can be maintained with a distributed workforce and reduced hours in uncertain times. On the other hand, there is the consistent worry that these positive results may eventually lower the quality of the business’s products or services and harm the company’s established workplace culture.
The decision to reduce the number of hours worked is one that can only be made with careful consideration, with leaders considering both the future of the business and the perspective of their workers. To help, a panel of
Forbes Business Council members share strategies business leaders can leverage to shift to a four-day workweek or reduce hours without compromising productivity.
Members of Forbes Business Council share strategies business leaders can leverage to maintain productivity when reducing working hours.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
1. Drive Efficiency With Scheduling
Be efficient. Don’t let a single minute go to waste. Use every second to do something productive or something that is going to help benefit your company. The best way to do this is by scheduling everything. This will allow you to see where you are lacking and then pick it up during that four-day workweek. The extra day of rest will then allow the team to be more and more efficient during those four days. –
Todd Price, Perimeter Roofing
2. Set Goals Based On Metrics
Using a very focused, metrics-driven goal-setting practice for the organization allows the focus to be back on productivity and output and less on the time needed to get there. It also gives more autonomy to individuals within a company to understand their responsibilities, take ownership and take accountability for results without feeling the need to show the number of hours worked as a metric. –
Vikram Ahuja, Talent500
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3. Make Updates More Accessible
Make it easy for people to get updates on status or progress without needing everyone to be in a meeting. Effective work visualization keeps teams cohesive and organized while also enabling stakeholders to check in without requiring a conversation. Agile tools are my favorite for this, especially a nice well-designed virtual Kanban board in Trello, Asana, Jira or another similar platform. –
Andrea Fryrear, AgileSherpas
4. Provide Clarity For Teams
According to the Pareto Principle, it is 20% of the effort a team puts in that leads to 80% of the results. The clearer a team is on the few things that create most of the results, the more productive they will be. By training their teams to think and execute strategically, leaders can help their teams accomplish what previously required five days in a four-day workweek. –
Nneka Unachukwu, EntreMD
5. Focus On The Results
A four-day workweek isn’t feasible for most businesses in this day and age unless it is in the engineering or medical fields and they are able to bulk up their hours. However, if a sales person has high efficiency and a high conversion rate, then time at work isn’t important—results are. –
Boris Kalendarev, Specialty Capital
6. Grant Employees Autonomy Over Their Schedules
Empower your team to manage their own schedule. Resist the urge to value face time over actual output and quality of work. By granting team members autonomy over their schedules, they’ll be motivated to find efficiencies that benefit the business. As a company leader, you’ll also want to model this flexibility so employees feel free to use it. –
Jamie Trull, Balance CFO LLC
7. Block Out Time
Time blocking is probably one of the most important, imperative and powerful tools that you can teach to your teams. The reality is that in an eight-hour work day, most only accomplish four hours of actual work. By dialing in productivity, you can accomplish more in a shorter time frame and then feel more justified and ready to trim back on hours spent working. –
Carson Porter, REV Agency Syndicate
8. Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks
To save time and still maximize productivity, focus on what matters and get rid of the fluff. Eliminate or reduce meetings and long calls for things that could be handled by a quick email. There is a huge amount of time lost when there’s too much fluff required to get things done. –
Timothy Dick, VOIPO
9. Embrace Diversity
Don’t try to fit everyone into a box because everyone is different. Each person will have their own way of working most efficiently. Ask people how they work best and then embrace that. If someone works best by starting at 5 a.m. but doesn’t work well in the evenings, embrace that. If someone is terrible in the morning but amazing at night, then embrace that. –
Michael Bach, CCDI Consulting
10. Plan Ahead
To get all things done well in less time, plan ahead and be sensitive to your biorhythms to know when you’re at peak or low productivity. Don’t use your best hours doing less critical work like morning emails while doing important work when you’re least productive (e.g., after lunch). Reorder projects needing attention to detail to the most productive hours. With time mastery, you can work fewer hours! –
Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly
11. Increase Automation And Digitization Across The Business
The answer to this question is simple and complex. It is simple because it is obvious that it’s necessary to automate processes, increase the overall efficiency of labor and increase the digitalization of all parts of the business. It isn’t very easy because only highly organized and motivated teams can implement such procedures. It is a worthy goal, so you’ll have to work hard on the way to it! –
Andrey Kovalev, BusinessInvitee Consulting Group
12. Make Data Comparisons
Take data and review it! Looking at the business pre- and post-Covid offers a really unique opportunity to compare the data. There are many studies which have looked at productivity with reduced work hours or while working from home and have found countless times that workers are often more productive at home and have a healthier work-life balance. If the data supports a healthier lifestyle, why not follow it? –
Alex Argianas, Arginias & Associates
13. Consider If Current Processes Won’t Compromise Operations
Four-day workweeks have already proven to increase productivity.
Studies have shown that they increase work quality, profitability and employee mental health. They are also known to decrease missed deadlines and employee turnover. As a leader, you should be more worried about compromising productivity if you keep a five-day workweek. – Deyman Doolittle, ShipSigma
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