The rise of the four-day work week

This week Unilever’s NZ arm starts its four-day work week trial for a period of 12 months.

The fact that the trial is starting in NZ is confirmation that we are innovative and early adopters.  Being small and tech savvy NZ is the ideal place to test new ideas before expanding them globally.

The four-day work week trial recognises some work practices arising from the Covid-19 pandemic lock downs will be lasting – particularly flexi working and remote working.  Both concepts are common sense for some businesses.

Last week it was stated on Seven Sharp that in many workplaces only three hours of productive work is done each working day by each staff member.  That is why it is possible to do a “full” week’s work in four days, or 32 hours instead of 40.

In most businesses there is time wasted in needless meetings, chatting, unnecessary emails, playing telephone tag, inefficient processes, and other unproductive “work”.

SMEs are usually lean and heavily dependent on hard-working owners.   They lack scale, robust systems, efficient processes, highly trained staff, and defined infrastructure.  That makes many SMEs inefficient.

If the four-week work week becomes the norm then SMEs must rethink their business model to be able to attract skilled staff, to become more efficient and profitable, and a desirable place to work.

Imagine if in 2021 we all worked a four-day week!  How could your business produce the same or more output in 80% of the current time spent?  In other words – where is the 20% waste, and how can you remove it?

That is an interesting question and well worth considering as we relax on the beach or in the hammock over the coming weeks.

“The 80/20 Principle, like the truth, can make you free.  You can work less.  At the same time, you can earn more and enjoy more.  The only price is that you need to do some serious 80/20 thinking.” 

– Richard Koch

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