The future of the office — shut on Wednesday?

What would you like to see?

At work, several years ago, they introduced a policy to reduce the amount of leave someone could carry over. They did it for a good reason. An acknowledgement of the importance of leave for replenishing for work, and that high leave balances are essentially a debt on the organisation. Reducing leave debt, provides better balance to the work force. It was common practice for people to accrue leave and have it paid out when they leave the organisation. This was hard to balance.

At this time, a friend of mine (and plenty of others) had a high leave balance. They were instructed to bring it down to by the start of the next year. Many people in this situation took large chunks of leave. Bringing their balance down like stairs. But instead my friend decided to do something different. He took every Wednesday off work for the rest of the year. 

Their motivation, never work more that two days in a row.

Two days work, one day off, two days work, two days off — repeat.

They used the Wednesday, their day off in the middle of the week, to do all the boring life stuff that fills your evenings and weekends, as well as get out and explore on less crowded days. 

They were exceptionally happy.

When I was reading about the newsworthy company in Melbourne, Australia who had increased their productivity by working a four day week, I investigated. Australian company Versa introduced a 4 day week, in the 12 months since its introduction, their productivity has gone up 46% and their sick days decreased. People in the office are happier and healthier. 

Many organisations utilise flexible working arrangements, allowing their staff to manage their time according to their schedules a little more. Many people in this situation choose to work for an earlier finish on Fridays, or every second Friday off. Versa chose not to do this.

Their motivation was to provide an opportunity for people to recharge. They surmised, probably accurately, that their younger workforce would potentially utilise the repeated long weekends in extravagance, and not feel more refreshed. So they introduced ‘No Work Wednesday’. The mid-week break provided an opportunity for refreshing and dealing with other life issues, without the focus on night-time socialisation.

Some members of their teams chose not to use the four day week, and others shifted it to a different day, but in the main, Wednesday’s off has not harmed the company. By most measures it has improved it. Ms Blackham, CEO of Versa said;

“I’m hoping other companies will look at this and stop and think about different ways they can implement something similar that allows staff to be happier and more efficient” 

“I strongly believe the workforce is changing and I think in 20 years, the 9–5 day will be a thing of the past”.

They are not trail blazers in changing the working schedule and seeing a change in their productivity.

Companies globally are realising the time of punching clocks for dollars is over, and presence does not equal productivity. 

What have you seen work? What changes would you like to see? What is the future of office work in your mind?

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