The importance of looking behind the headlines
Iceland is often hailed as the gold-standard for the practice, where 86% of workers now either work shorter weeks or are entitled to ask to do so. But when you look behind the headlines, the reality is that Iceland didn’t simply switch to working Monday to Thursday. The focus there was in fact on a fairly modest reduction in working hours - from 40 to 35 or 36 – leaving workers the option of how to manage their remaining hours over the week. Rather than honing in on having an extra day off, the drive was to reduce working hours which, in some instances, resulted in public sector staff actually only reducing their overall hours by just 13 minutes a day.
So, before any organisation looks to make the leap to a four-day week, it’s perhaps important to be aware of what the research really supports.
The ability to effectively measure productivity is the key
Central to the success of moving to a four-day working week is the extent to which an organisation can effectively measure its productivity. And that’s because it’s the only means by which stakeholders can be assured that productivity has been maintained.
For some organisations, dealing in data or tangible outputs, it will be more easily achievable to monitor a move from five to four-day working practices, and its effects on productivity. But all organisations contemplating the move will require more robust practices to measure and monitor output. If performance is not being accurately measured, then not only can improvements not be demonstrated, but worse still, any declines can’t be picked up on and promptly addressed.