One of the hardest elements of moving forward a plan for 4 day work weeks where employees work about 30 hours a week is the transition. There is opposition to change in nearly every kind of field, so it only makes sense that people are initially reluctant to make the changes that a 4 day work week requires. Here are just a few ways to consider transitioning some or all of the jobs at your workplace into 4 day work week jobs.
One of the most well-known experiments with the 4 day work week has been a New Zealand pilot program. Without committing to staying at 4 days per week, they began the experiment by asking employees to switch to 4 rather than 5 workdays a week. They didn't change expectations for productivity, but they did reassure their employees that the pilot wouldn't continue if it was bad for business overall or decreased employee satisfaction. Instead of those problems, they saw productivity remain at pre-pilot levels and employee satisfaction went up.
One of the big reasons to opt for a pilot program is that it curtails a lot of complaints or worries before they begin: if you are only trying this for a finite amount of time, you can also take feedback and go back to the way things were. Asking everyone to give it a try can help you figure out if the logistical challenges of your particular business can handle having a 4 day work week.
Start New Contracts and Job Offers As 30 Hour Jobs
If the current employees are exceptionally dubious about the idea of a 30 hour job, consider framing new job descriptions and advertisements as 30 hour jobs. You are likely to attract candidates who are interested in the work-life balance this affords. There is no threat or rumour of "lowered" salary (something people worry about with 4 day work weeks), because the job and the salary are both set with 30 hour work weeks in mind. Finally, as employees see the new hires get this kind of work-life balance, they may warm to the idea of transitioning their own jobs to something similar.
Shift Hour Requirements During Performance Reviews
Treating shorter work weeks as a reward or perk during performance reviews can make a lot of sense. If you make it clear that managers are monitoring productivity and offering shortened weeks to those who are exceptionally good at their weekly output, there may be an initial boost in productivity from those who normally drag their feet a bit. It's important for these changes not to look like favouritism, so make it clear how any individual can get to the point in your company where a 4 day work week is achievable for them.
Frame Payment Based on Weekly Output, With the 5th Day as Optional
For some companies, one's job description is clearly defined enough that you know exactly how much "work" should be accomplished each week: for instance, a certain number of billable hours to a client account, or a certain amount of documents completed, or a certain amount of paperwork filed. If your job (or the jobs your company offers) can be quantified in this way, it is possible to transition to a 4 day work week by saying that the important metric is the amount and quality of the work, and if the work is done by the end of the 4th day, the 5th day of work is unnecessary. This is helpful in scheduling because the employee is counted on to be present for 4 days, but will only come the 5th day if the work demands it. This can be a less stressful proposition to many employees at first, since they may not initially see a way to fit their typical productivity into a 4 day work week. As they innovate, grow more skilled, and become more efficient workers, they can slowly start taking that 5th day off as it makes sense to do so.
Consider How to "Move Up" Star Performers Who are Currently Part-Time
Many companies function with a combination of part-time and full-time talent. If the full-time staff are less interested in the 30 hour work week, talk to the part-timers and see if any of the best members of that staff are interested in moving up to a job that carries benefits but is still not 40 hours a week. This can either be a pilot program or a way to to get some momentum for the 4 day work week in your workplace.
Begin With "Work Week Flexibility" as a Path to 4 Day Weeks
One option that many employees enjoy is the feeling of "work week flexibility," which is more focused on the ability to remotely work during non-business-hours when necessary to make up for business-hours absences. For instance, if you stay home with your child who is sick, but get the chance to do 8 hours of work between the child's naps and after they are asleep for the night, this counts as "flexibility" rather than an actual vacation or sick day. This kind of experience can help the office get used to occasional absences and develop systems for clear communication when someone is out of the office, which eventually makes a transition to 4 day weeks much easier.
Make 30 Hours Work Weeks an "Opt-In" Program
If you have tried a few different paths to a 30 hour work week and it seems that there are simply some important team members who aren't interested, make the program opt-in, rather than mandatory. While it is initially inconvenient to have some 5-day employees and some 4-day, the system works itself out and each company deals with equally complex challenges every day. You can impose rules (i.e. you must choose 4 day or 5 day for a whole year, not jump back and forth) but overall let it be a partial implementation and still reap many of the benefits in terms of morale and productivity while seeing a more balanced, less burnt-out staff overall.