Simply put Future 4:3 is the move to four days working / three days off - or a similar pattern equivalent to a 32 hour week.
During 2022, more than 70 UK companies and organisations trialled a four-day working week, with no loss in pay for employees, representing the largest ever trial of a four-day week in the world.
Over 3,300 employees, based throughout the UK and from more than thirty sectors, received 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.
The trial concluded in December 2022 and of the initial pilot cohort, 86% of businesses have decided to adapt a 4 day working week permanently, citing more engaged employees, no loss - and often an increase - in productivity, and an enhanced brand reputation.
Now more then ever, against a background of unsustainable pay demands and increasing inflationary pressures that threaten our economic growth, perhaps it's time for employers to look at how they can help their employees to reduce their living costs whilst at the same time providing something even more valuable than salary:
more time - for family, for leisure, for travel or for personal development or well-being.
The service-profit chain dictates that happier employees will deliver more exceptional client outcomes, increased loyalty and ultimately profit. Whilst it may at first seem counter-intuitive, for many switching to 4:3 has led to better customer satisfaction and increased revenue and profit performance.
Though presenteeism is frequently measured at the expense of what people actually do, productivity in the UK is stubbornly low despite our long hours culture. Tired, stressed, or clock-watching employees are estimated to produce at least 33% less meaningful work (and that’s being pretty conservative).
In a competitive and knowledge-based economy such as ours, it pays to not have just peoples' bodies turn up but their brains too, and rested brains find it easier to create, ideate, and innovate -
vital for fresh, innovative ideas, world class customer service and ensuring ongoing competitive advantage.
Work-life balance is an aspiration for all. A four-day week could show your future stars that you genuinely care about their well-being and make you stand head and shoulders above your potential competitors for talent in similar salary brackets.
And of course, this does not only apply to the stars of the future. After all, your people probably represent your single largest investment. By reducing churn, you grow your in-house talent while reducing cost, disruption, and knowledge loss.
1 in 4 absences are attributed to stress or overwork according to HR studies. Disruption caused by unexpected absences has shown to be reduced by a 4:3 week. And this is just what we can see - employees who are present but off their game are less visible.
A more flexible work pattern allows more time to care for children, elderly dependents, or to volunteer in the community. This helps level out the disparities in gender inequality. Despite decades of attempts to make improvements, women are still more likely to be constrained by lower pay and fewer opportunities as they balance their caring responsibilities. And not forgetting the benefits of better mental well-being for all.
For employees: reducing childcare or commuting costs would be a welcome boost in meeting the cost of living.
For businesses: reducing overheads means, for example, lowering energy consumption, reducing office floor space, and increasing the adoption of technology that improves processes and productivity.
For the wider UK: there is potential to rebalance issues around unemployment or underemployment.
Our experiences during COVID showed us just how much impact reducing the unproductive commute could have on our environment by reducing congestion and the need for parking. It’s suggested that if we all switched to four-day workweeks, the impact would be comparable to taking 27 million cars off our roads. If all businesses reduced their energy requirements by up to 20%, we’d be more energy self-sufficient too. Bad news for despots!
The effects of four-day workweeks are attracting interest and in the news everywhere, including in the US, where a similar, if not worse, culture of long hours is prevalent.
If you're not already doing it, and before any major change, it makes sense to test the temperature. How are your people really feeling, both generally and about work?
What could 4:3 look like in your business? What concerns are there for your managers and teams?
How do they imagine the future?
The fundamental tenet of Future 4:3 is no loss of productivity.
What will teams commit to stopping, starting, or continuing to do to ensure the best chance of success?
How many of our projects or processes have minimal or no return on investment and are of little value to our clients?
Can we afford to be ruthless in cutting time-consuming tasks that don't drive results?
One hour at a table with eight people is equal to one workday.
Block meetings in 15-minute increments or consider a stand-up huddle. Always issue and use an agenda, and keep people on track.
How much of a typical day is spent on email? What better ways exist to communicate or collaborate? Messaging, task management apps; increased automation through AI or
ERP may help.
As with any major change, there is a leap into the unknown, so it may help to position Future 4:3 as a pilot or trial.
With considered execution, we believe the benefits are there to be grasped, and of course, we'll be on hand to help you every step of the way.
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