COMMENT

Having had a four-day week last week, I've decided I'm in love with it. It turns out I'm not alone.

A new report reveals "one third of small business owners believe we don't get enough annual leave each year and they want a revision of our work culture".

READ MORE:
Microsoft tested a four-day week in overworked Japan. This is what happened
Finnish PM calls for four-day week, six-hour workday
Shorter meetings, more time to upskill: What it's like having a four-day week?
'It isn't nirvana': What a four-day workweek is really like

Advertisement

It said "experts believe that the culture of 'being busy' and the current 9 to 5, Monday to Friday work structure, paired with just four weeks annual leave... is negatively impacting productivity".

In a nutshell, what we're learning is that the workforce is overworked - and unable to switch off.

That results, as we know, in more people stressed, anxious, frazzled and burnt out.
That's a bigger strain on the health system and mental health services.

It's a strain on families.

It's probably got a knock-on effect for sick leave too.

The founder of a coaching firm called Business Changing, Zac de Silva, says "flexibility actually helps productivity".

So is that what we need? How flexible should we be? And what is it we actually get from a day off during the week? The ability to recharge?

Well yes, I found a day off mid-week did exactly that. I felt recharged. It meant jobs and errands that you usually have to leave until the weekend you could get done on a weekday - so then the weekend felt like a bonus.

Advertisement

But not everyone agrees.

A producer I work alongside said he didn't like it because it felt like two Mondays in one week. A day off mid-week meant the following day felt like another Monday morning in his books. He said he'd rather just push through the work days in one block, then have the days off in one block.

Does an overall reduction in our work hours though, make us feel more productive generally? I certainly thought so.

Obviously, it's different for each workplace and business - some lend themselves more to flexibility than others.

Sometimes, hammering the job through until the end beats dragging it out in bite-sized pieces.

Kate Hawkesby. File photo / Michael Craig
Kate Hawkesby. File photo / Michael Craig

Perpetual Guardian's founder Andrew Barnes has been advocating for this for a while – he thinks a four-day week should become the new normal. Is that bad? Or is it that the times are changing and people are seeking more balance these days?

The I'm-so-stressed-and-overworked thing is no longer a badge of honour but an albatross around your neck.

People want more time with their families, more time for self improvement, more time for reflection.

Maybe it's time then that we stop pooh-poohing those concepts as flakey, New Age nonsense, and embrace the evolution of the workplace to focus on output, rather than hours worked.