How to achieve a 4-day working week
23 August 2021
With the huge adjustment to life over the last 18 months, there’s an increased desire to address the all-important work/life balance.
Those lines are even more blurred with dining tables and spare bedrooms becoming the norm for many people and businesses.
What if there was a way to do more work in less time and achieve the holy grail that is a 4-day working week?
There are huge opportunities for us all to work smarter and not harder in order to achieve our professional ambitions. Whether that’s to have a better work/life balance, or to grow and scale the business.
Working smarter is the key.
There’s a huge productivity gap in the UK when compared to other growing economies. This means that we aren’t delivering as much as we can in the available time. We’re not working smart.
Fundamentally, we need to challenge the accepted norms in our business. Break down barriers between departments and create time savings that could enable you and your business to do more with less.
The 4-day week may not be the ambition, but here’s a four-step plan to help you to boost productivity in your business and control your own destiny.
Map your processes
How do you know whether you’re working in the smartest way you can?
By mapping how you work and how that process flows through the business, you’ll begin to challenge those accepted norms and identify areas that you could improve or streamline.
There are some great software tools that you can use to facilitate this process, we use Create.ly to develop process maps for our customers.
Once you’ve produced the process map, it’s important that you analyse each step and ask yourself why you do things the way you do.
Asking why five times can be incredibly frustrating when trying to get a toddler to eat their vegetables but applying this principle to your processes can really help you get to the bottom of why things have to be a certain way.
Note the areas that you can improve and the potential impact of that improvement. Always put a value on this improvement.
So if you’re saving 5 hours a week, what are the overheads for paying someone to work those five hours? Or what is the lost opportunity cost for not being able to bill the time out. Saving 20% of your time sounds brilliant, but that could be a huge cost saving for the business, too.
This analysis is key to help formulate a business case for improvement.
Once you’ve identified the change you want to see and understand the value it will add, you need to implement that change.
It could be as simple as creating an alert email to automatically be sent, or as complex as an entirely new Enterprise Resource Planning system.
Whether it’s a big change or a small change, make sure you’re set up to monitor the impact the change has on your business.
Review and repeat
Just because you’ve implemented a solution doesn’t mean you’ve achieved everything you can. There are always improvements that can be made, so make sure that you set up a review period to analyse the impact your change has had before repeating steps 1-3.
This review cycle will challenge your desired outcomes against actual results.
If you’re aiming for the four-day week, you’ll know whether you’ve achieved your goal by virtue of not being in the business, but the likelihood is that you’ll need to make several rounds of improvements before this is in consideration.
We recommend a 90-day review cycle, giving you time to measure the impact you’ve had before analysing the impact. This review period will depend heavily on the type of business and the improvements you are trying to measure. Some may not fit in this 90-day world.
Improving your productivity
To ensure your business is as productive as it can be, you need to have strategies to monitor and improve both the personal productivity and process productivity.
By identifying performance indicators for both a business function and each individual within that function, you’ll soon be able to diagnose whether the problem lies with the process, or whether the individual may require additional support.