The COVID-19 pandemic undeniably reshaped the way we work. Many employees experienced remote work for the first time and discovered its benefits.
As leaders, you may have noticed a significant shift in the desire for flexibility among your employees. It is crucial to understand the impact of increased flexibility on meaningful work and consider innovative approaches like the four-day work week if you want to attract and retain talent.
Flexible remote work policies have emerged as the leading factor in improving company culture between 2020 and 2022.
Beaumont People’s research into meaningful work, initiated in 2019 and continued through to 2023, showed that when people are engaged in meaningful work there are benefits for both your people and your organization, including improved performance and better retention rates of staff.
It can even help improve your organization’s performance during times of downturns and downsizing.
The academic review of meaningful work showed the factor of "hours that allow for free time and rest" was not of high importance in 2019, but it is something that is being asked about time and again in 2023.
The productivity advantage
Remote work has demonstrated its potential for increased productivity. According to a Future Forum report, employees with full flexibility in their roles exhibited 29 percent higher productivity and 53 percent greater ability to focus compared to those without scheduling flexibility.
Remote and hybrid workers reported feeling more connected to their managers and company values.
Flexible remote work policies have emerged as the leading factor in improving company culture between 2020 and 2022. These findings indicate that increased flexibility not only enhances individual productivity but also strengthens employee engagement and satisfaction.
Evaluating performance remotely
A common concern for business owners is how to assess employee performance without physical oversight.
The Future Forum report revealed since the onset of the pandemic executives experienced a 20 percent worse work–life balance year-on-year and a 40 percent increase in work-related stress and anxiety.
Addressing these challenges requires rethinking performance evaluation methods, setting clear expectations and leveraging technology-driven solutions for measuring results.
The rise of the four-day work week
One of the ways to allow your team more control over their schedules is to consider the four-day work week. The concept of a four-day work week has gained significant traction.
Andrew Barnes, Founder of Perpetual Guardian, pioneered this approach in New Zealand in 2018. Employees on a full-time, five-day contract continue to be paid for five days but work only four.
The initial trial proved successful, leading to improved workplace productivity, enhanced mental health, and reduced stress and burnout.
Inspired by this success, Barnes and his partner Charlotte Lockhart established 4 Day Week Global and initiated more trials.
In our implementation of the four-day work week at Beaumont People, one of the steps we put in place was to create productivity guidelines by role type. This gives us a measure of each individual, allowing us to overcome the challenge of evaluating performance with less physical oversight.
Trials and success rates
Trials of the four-day work week have been conducted globally, with participation from more than 250 companies across various countries.
Beaumont People took part in a recent study by Swinburne University of Technology. The study showed that 71 percent of employees reported lower levels of burnout and 39 percent saying they were less stressed.
Employers were also proven to gain numerous advantages from embracing the four-day work week. Motivated and engaged staff become the driving force behind the company’s goals and objectives, fostering a positive organizational culture. This, in turn, contributes to streamlined operations, reduced costs, and improved overall efficiency.
This study also showed that organizations participating in the four-day work week initiative reported a 65 percent reduction in sick days and a 57 percent reduction in staff turnover.
As a business owner, it is crucial to adapt to these changing dynamics, ensuring a balance between productivity, employee wellbeing, and organizational success.
Additionally, the four-day work week acts as a powerful tool for bolstering an employer’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP). By offering this sought-after benefit, organizations differentiate themselves in a competitive talent market.
Providing a flexible working environment that empowers employees to manage their own schedules creates an appealing workplace culture, making potential candidates more inclined to apply for positions within the organization.
The desire for increased flexibility has become a much-discussed indicator of meaningful work in the post-pandemic world. The evidence demonstrates the positive impact of remote work and the benefits of implementing a four-day work week.
As a business owner, it is crucial to adapt to these changing dynamics, ensuring a balance between productivity, employee wellbeing and organizational success.
By embracing flexibility and staying attuned to the evolving landscape of meaningful work, you can create a thriving work environment for your team and drive your business forward into the future.
Nina Mapson Bone, author of Meaningful Work: Unlock your unique path to career fulfilment, and Managing Director of Beaumont People, is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of meaningful work, and talent attraction, retention and development. For more information visit: www.ninamapsonbone.com.au