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Four-Day Work Week
A study is underway in Britain
A new study (link to NYT article here) has been in the news this week.
Basically, the goal of this 6-month trial is to see if people can handle the same workload in a 32-hour week as they can in a 40-hour week, and then have Fridays off.
There’s a case for this—we all know that some office time is not productive, and that rested and refreshed people are more productive. So it will be interesting to see if the researchers find this is a workable option, and if it has side benefits, like increased morale and retention.
After the past few years, though, I think we know that it’s entirely possible this will work. We made a lot of non-traditional work situations work since March of 2020. And I also think that this study might be impacted by the Hawthorne Effect, which is basically the fancy social-psychology term for “people are more productive when they know they are being watched.”
But this study is a good reason to consider what you can do for your own team. Many firms have “summer hours,” in which people can leave early on Fridays, as long as their work for the week is done. Consider how this might dovetail with hybrid work schedules. There’s potential for innovation here, and some leaders might find successful ways to improve motivation and morale without losing productivity. There are also some people who will prefer “the way we’ve always done it.”
In any case, we will want to keep this ongoing study on our radar, since it may be a bellwether of future work scheduling.