Obvious doesn't mean simple
And complexity eats the obvious for breakfast.
Quoting Sarah Peck (writing at): “We don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done.”
And yet, even when data indicates that a different solution is objectively better - it’s still easier to continue doing things the way they’ve always been done.
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The 4-day-work-week (32 hours work week) was a success.
The largest ever experiment around shortening the work week was conducted in the UK - over 60 companies across all sectors participated, sharing the journey with academic institutions like Boston College and University of Cambridge. The final report was released this past week.
The data collected is quite convincing:
➡️ Companies continuing with 4 day week: 92%
💰 Average revenue (vs last year): +35%
Number of employees resigning: -57%
💪 Improved physical health: 37%
🧠 Improved mental health: 43%
🔥 Reduced Burnout: 71%
💧 Reduced Stress: 39%
🎤 Hiring: easier
Technically, the four-day-work-week is the way forward. Who wouldn’t want to get those benefits? They are clear cut, scientifically validated, and didn’t get muddled with pandemic “figuring it out”.
If the data shows there are better ways to work (e.g. 4 day work week, remote flexibility) - what's stopping companies from implementing change?
You can find the reasoning in the report itself: "the trial involved two months of preparation, with workshops, coaching, mentoring and peer support, drawing on the expertise of those who had already implemented four-day weeks [...]."
Or, in other works: changes were introduced deliberatively, with a transition period, and involving everyone within the work force.
Everyone was aware that this was a complex project. Each company appointed a person or a group to lead the change. Everyone received training and support.
Compare this with sending everyone home to work remotely and hoping that somehow things will work out.
Complex situations require a plan - and ownership
Changing the way a company works touches every single process in the company.
Every person needs to change the way they work.
Every workflow needs to be adapted.
Every software (including triggers and presets used for years) needs to be updated.
This is not something you drop on HR to figure out. It’s not something you ask your COO to have a look at.
You need to actively involve everyone, and you need someone to spearhead the change. And that someone needs the full backing of the exec team - not just a lukeworm “yeah, we’ll see”.
“Building the rocket as we are flying it” sounds great - and you end up on the ground
It’s not impossible to figure things out as you go. Even complex things.
However, at the very least everyone needs to be aligned around what you are trying to figure out. And someone needs to be in charge of collecting everything that breaks and coordinate what is going to happen about those things.
E.g., how do you make sure to offer your usual customer support coverage without removing the team's access to engineering every Friday. (You can learn from Buffer here).
Or how do you support team managers who are now productivity coaches for their own team members?
Unless you have proactive alignment on the executive team and a clear mandate for someone to take ownership of the entire process - change may not happen.
And that’s exactly what happened with those who signed up for the 4-day-work-week experiment.
The positive results didn't just "appear". They are the sum of high motivation (people love to have more time off) and a concerted effort to adapt the way of work to a new reality.
The difference between THIS implementation (prepped, planned, supervised) to how many companies elsewhere introduced 4 day work week (hyped as a “perk” to improve retention and hiring results) is impressive - and not really surprising.
The way we work, the way people collaborate - it’s a complex network of relationships, activities, and interdependencies. It’s obvious. And complex.
Who’s in charge of improving the way how people work together at your company? What if someone was in charge?
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