Work Smarter, Not Longer!
4 day weeks? 5 hour days? Shorter hours might improve productivity, but you also need to have the right tools
The past 18 months have seen a massive, unstructured experiment in new ways of working. Many of us have been (or still are) subject to enforced work from home orders. Others have just succumbed to a rational fear of crowded offices.
In parallel, we’ve seen more and more accounts surface of formal studies, plus anecdotes and opinion pieces, that challenge the orthodoxy of the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 working week.
(As an aside, this orthodoxy is often quoted as stemming from Henry Ford’s introduction of the 40 hour week. The real story is far more complicated according to this Wikipedia article…and far more interesting!)
Brave New World?
What if a shorter working week led not just to happier workers, but also more productive workplaces?
A quick Google search quickly comes up with these examples, amongst many others:
- Four-day week 'an overwhelming success' in Iceland (bbc.com)
- 4 Day Week Global – The Future of Work (4dayweek.com)
- Why we need to consider switching to a 4-day workweek (ted.com)
- Will the post-Covid world include a 4-day workweek? (cnbc.com)
Others have moved on from the 4 day week, and are embracing (or at least looking into) the benefits of a 5 hour day:
- The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five (wires.co.uk)
- The business case for the five-hour workday (theguardian.com)
Before you get too excited and implement big changes at your company, you might want to read these for a reality check:
- The success of Iceland’s ‘four-day week’ trial has been greatly overstated (theconversation.com)
- These CEOs swear by a five-hour working day - even though it made employees quit (cnbc.com)
I found the last of those articles, which focuses on California-based start-up Tower Paddle Boards, particularly interesting. It was published just before COVID-19 became a thing, but some of CEO Stephan Aarstol’s observations resonate even more strongly now:
…when all of a sudden you’re walking out of work at one o’clock, your outside world becomes much bigger — you don’t have a strong bond with co-workers. And I think that’s why it was very easy for people to leave.
(Ironically, as we endure a harsh, long, Delta-induced lockdown in Sydney, my outside world has recently become much smaller. A 5km radius from home, to be precise.)
I’ll leave it to the sociologists to debate the benefits or otherwise of a shorter week, and why it might work, but I suspect there would be general agreement on the following:
Sustainable productivity improvements come from working smarter, not harder.
Working smarter might require a change of mindset, but smart working requires smart tools. Orchid Systems has spent over 25 years designing, building and refining Sage 300 add-ons that increase productivity.
That might mean automating mundane tasks, improving collaboration, streamlining your financial processes, or increasing the efficiency of your warehouse operations.
Take the time to have a closer look at our products and see how they could help you work smarter.
They might just be your passport to a shorter working week.