The opportunity to focus in on a shorter work week has been shown in the research to have surprising benefits. However, particular industries may stand to benefit even more because of the structure of work inside certain fields. Companies that haven't considered the 30 hour work week or a 4 day work week can test out a 30 hour work week by transitioning members of these teams within their structure. Others in similar positions have seen resulting positive growth in productivity, reduced turnover, and overall satisfaction. It might even prompt you to consider transitioning your whole corporate culture to a 4 day work week schedule.
Computer programming involves more collaboration than you think. However, due to the growth of online collaboration platforms, it is more possible than ever to communicate effectively in a team of programmers, documenting the functionality of specific code such that your team can understand it even if you happen to be away from the office on a particular day. Computer programming often involves some flexibility, and if your team is providing on-call support for a particular software, it is possible to create good communication between the shifts of 4-day-a-week workers. After all, a website that must be supported 24/7 is already relying on a variety of individuals, not just one person working 168 hours a week; many companies rely on platforms like PagerDuty when nearly-instant fixes are needed to keep computer systems up and running. Programming is a good functionality to take to 30-hours-a-week as well because it is well-compensated in most contexts and requires so much attention that coding professionals may become burnt out when they have to put in long hours without a break. Lastly, new developments and languages are always cropping up, and having 3 days off each week can give programmers room in their schedules for satisfying professional development and training.
Graphic designers now work almost exclusively on digital platforms, and because their work tends to be project-based rather than on-call coverage based, they are apt for switching over to 4-days-a-week. Like programmers, graphic design requires high focus and attention to detail, both of which are enhanced by plenty of work-life balance to prevent burnout. In fact, blogger and freelancer James Greig points out in this post that scaling back and not feeling burned out any more can be the key to continuing to love graphic design long-term.
Digital Marketing Specialists
Whether its PPC ads, search engine optimization or creating the most compelling website copy for your consumers, digital marketing specialists benefit from being able to see the details and the big picture. Consider taking your digital marketing team to 4-days-a-week; staggering at least one person's schedule will allow for any 9-to-5 coverages needs, if the marketing team interfaces with customers directly in any way, and most marketing efforts aren't going to require 24-hour response times anyway, if communication is well-structured and expectations are made clear.
Project Management Professionals
With new software, many project management professionals are finding it easier to streamline projects through digital organization tools than ever before. By creatively using communication and automated reminders, 4-day-a-week project managers can make sure that things keep moving on their weekday off while setting things up for a highly-productive 4 day work week to come.
The image of a person who is present in the office for all hours of a business executive's day may still dominate the image of administrative assistants, it has become more economical and often just as effective to hire a virtual assistant and give them the timing flexibility they need. Yes, 4-days-a-week may seem like it wouldn't be enough to cover all the business hours in a week, but virtual assistants can queue up emails with a "schedule to send" feature, arrange all appointments and program reminders, and organize communication and schedules in advance so that they aren't missed on their one day a week off during the work week. A virtual assistant can also be an excellent alternative if there isn't a budget for a 40-hour-a-week administrative assistant.
Social Media Managers
Companies with a strong consumer-facing brand want to make sure that they are reaching their customers on the most popular social networks for their industry, but that doesn't mean that the person managing those accounts needs to be working at all hours of the day, all week long. Many "evergreen" topics exist, timeless photographs and statements that can be used to engage your social media followers even on days when the social media manager isn't working. Yes, there is a perception of instant response in the social media world, but a savvy use of scheduling software and analytics to understand trends can help a social media manager arrange to work the 30 hours that make the most sense for him or her each week, to maximize their social media reach without minimizing their free time. This is especially true for those who know the many different designations within social media work.
Wealth managers rely on long-term strategies and close interaction with their clients, but it is rare that a client would need M-F 9-to-5 availability in order to provide great service. Especially on a team of wealth managers, it would be entirely possible to route calls to a secondary manager on the main manager's day off, still providing premium service. The value of flexibility is already showing up in many ways; industry giant Edward Jones received a major accolade this year for workplace flexibility.
Wealth managers and financial advisors of all types could benefit from a switch to 4-day-a-week jobs for all of the reasons mentioned above, including the fact that there is always more to learn and more certifications to receive, and time off can give wealth managers and financial advisors the chance to expand their knowledge and provide better service, while feeling like they are advancing in their careers on their own terms.
The key components of a career that lends itself to a 4-day-a-week job tend to be:
- Not being a career that requires 9-5, M-F coverage in person by the same person.
- Having flexibility, without an entrenched structure of being instantly available while in the office.
- Having communication structures in place that allow for excellent customer service when schedules change, such as PTO and sick days, that can be leveraged for the shifted schedules.
What this means, ultimately, is that almost any workplace can become an amazing 4-day-work week workplace, but it starts with a commitment to productivity, job satisfaction, and communication.