Is the 4-day work-week radical enough?
The 4-day work-week is here. It's one of the most evident signs that a global work revolution is happening, and our life/work balance is the spearhead. But are we pushing it fare enough?
Japan’s government is throwing 50 million euros at the idea, Spain is running a nationwide experiment, and New Zeeland is also flirting with the trend. Not to mention all the companies already with implemented, fully-functional 4-day work-weeks.
The reports point in the same direction: we are more or just as effective at work, even with the fewer hours. And the next point is that more freedom for employees gives more happiness and better work-life balance.
That is worth celebrating — but could we do even better?
Is the 4-day work-week the wrong tool for work/life balance?
The most implemented way of the 4-day work-week is structured like this: You work four days, and everyone has the same extra day off. Often Friday.
It looks something like this.
Here’s the question: Why should my company decide when I want to excise my freedom?
What if I would like to split it over multiple days? Or it fits my life working on Saturdays?
The 4-day work-week is founded in an old organizational mindset. The one we have practiced for decades. An office-bound workforce that works roughly the same hours.
Of course, there is a lot of hybrid models out there as well, where time isn’t as fixed. But I want to dig deeper into the core of why we put days on it, instead of hours — or even just relied upon results as a measurement of good work.
The majority is still using this old framework as the base.
But we are also working in a pandemic-accelerated work-life. Work from home, asynchronous work, and trust in our people are becoming the new normal — and most employees want to keep that momentum going.
So if we are introducing 4-day work-weeks to be more efficient while upping work-life balance, why don’t we go all the way and rethink our organizational model altogether?
Removing the limits of the 9 to 5 mindset.
Why not call it the 7-day work-week and let people decide how they want to balance their work and life themself? Throw away that limiting mindset that we need to be together all the time to work.
Then it could look like this. And the beauty is that it’s all up to your people to move those timeslots around as it fits them best.
That’s work/life freedom.
And yes, it’s radical for most companies.
It requires a lot of change in how a company is organized and much more asynchronous work than most are capable of (and comfortable with) yet.
But think about it like this: If we aim to maximize work-life balance for our people, why not trust them with everything — and let them fit work around their life, instead of their life around the work.
The 4-day work-week is a significant step in the right direction, and I applaud all companies implementing this.
But there’s room to grow even further.