The 40-hour workweek has been the standard for decades, but changing work environments and norms may force businesses to re-evaluate how valuable that tradition is.
- Four-day workweeks have been a trendy new idea in the workplace, with much success in several companies, but some researchers suggest that even these reduced hours are not the path to success.
- Studies in the UK found that companies with four-day workweeks increased productivity, yet some researchers now suggest that businesses should forget the time clock completely, The Hustle reports.
- The pandemic changed how many employees work, and it may result in companies permanently shifting to new work expectations and ways of measuring productivity.
Why it’s news
The working world has changed dramatically over the last three years.
When manufacturers were one of the leading U.S. employers, a 40-hour workweek was one of the best productivity metrics—more time at the factory meant more products produced. However, with the rise of white-collar jobs in the last several decades, more time at the office does not necessarily equate increased productivity.
The pandemic and resulting remote- and hybrid-work models gave employees greater flexibility and began to unofficially introduce a non-time-clock-bound system. When working remotely, employees could choose when they wanted to work, whether in the early morning or late afternoon, and once their tasks were completed, they were done for the day.
Backing Up a Bit
Flexibility is now more important to workers than ever before. During the Great Resignation, many employees reported that a lack of flexibility was one of the main contributing factors to quitting their job. Businesses looking to retain employees often explore more flexible work options, The Hustle reports.
This method of results-focused work has been attempted at least once. In 2005, electronics retailer Best Buy tried to change its work culture by implementing a new program, Results Only Work Environment (ROWE).
Before this change, Best Buy office employees felt pressured to stay in the office until after six, even if their work for the day was finished. After implementing ROWE, Best Buy’s productivity increased 41%. Workers also used fewer sick days and reported better sleep and fewer work-family conflicts, The Hustle reports.
However, this program was abolished in 2013 in favor of a traditional work schedule after the company began to struggle due to changing customer desires and poor management.
While Best Buy’s flex work program did not have a successful ending, more companies may be compelled to give this method a try as flexibility remains one of employees’ top concerns.