Juggling the traditional 9 to 5 in the office can be a struggle for employees in the 21st century, as they try to balance work with childcare, care of elderly parents and the slew of other responsibilities. As employers, we should be looking for ways to make the working week more practical for our workers. A recent study from office suppliers Viking asked 1,677 British full-time office workers how they felt about their working week and what they’d like to see changed.
The study revealed that workers have had enough of the classic five-day 38-hour week, with 29% stating that their work-life balance isn’t good enough and they want to see changes to help improve this. But what does this all mean for employers? There are steps that can be taken that might help improve the day-to-day lives of our staff and increase productivity.
1. Let them work from home
The survey found that 59% of workers would like the chance to work from home during the week. With the availability of high-speed, secure internet as well as conferencing tools such as Skype, allowing your employees to work from home doesn’t have to be expensive or unproductive for your company.
For employers with a younger workforce, this could be even more important, only one-third (32%) of 16-25-year olds want to work in an office full time. Compared to 54% of over 55s who’d rather head into the office each day, it looks like the future of working is moving away from the office.
Avoiding that tiresome daily commute could be one of the main driving forces for those wanting to work from home, as 40% stated that they’d like to work from home in the morning. If you have problems with lateness and staff being stuck in rush hour traffic, this could be a great option.
Giving your employees the opportunity to work from home is about more than just convenience for them. It shows that you have faith in their work ethic, trusting that they won’t slack off in the comfort of their own four walls, while also giving your business increased productivity.
2. Be flexible with hours
Offering flexi-hours in your workplace might send a shiver up the spine of some bosses, but it isn’t as scary as it seems. With 61% of people saying that changing their working hours would make them more productive, thoughts of an empty office and staff being impossible to track down can be banished.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘a happy worker is a productive worker’ and achieving employee satisfaction whilst hitting targets is the holy grail of many employers. 70% of workers said that a change in working hours would make them happier, with over half (51%) saying that it would increase their motivation.
It will probably come as no surprise to employers that 50% of their workers don’t want to work on Friday’s, instead preferring the idea of shortening their working week to four extended days. This obviously isn’t an option for some industries, education or emergency services for example, but where it can be utilized there should be good results.
With 68% of workers saying that they would be better rested if they worked a shorter week with condensed hours, the benefits are far-reaching for employers. It could mean less tired faces staring into coffee mugs on a Monday morning and an end to Friday afternoons with your feet up.
3. Control your own lunch break
Employment law in the UK states that your employees are due a break every six hours, however putting the length of this break into their hands could have great results for your business. 65% of people said they would take a lunch break lasting under half an hour if it meant that they could leave early, with 10% saying they’d rather not have a break at all.
Letting your staff have control over their lunch break, rather than forcing them to sit in the canteen could be a smart move when it comes to productivity. Less than 5% (4.29%) of staff asked in the survey said that they wanted to take a full hour for their lunch break.
If your employees are given the time to grab some refreshment, take their eyes off their screens and then get back to work as soon as they’re ready, they’ll be raring to go with the incentive of an early finish.
Of course, as an employer, the health of your team is an important priority. Working with flexible lunch breaks is a great way to incentivize your team and avoid wasted time in the day, but this should never come at the expense of good health. Staff should always stick to health and safety guidance when it comes to taking breaks.
Introducing these ideas in your business could be the perfect way to help keep your staff feeling fresh and motivated, whilst also increasing productivity and workplace harmony. The 21st Century workplace is evolving and, as an employer, ensuring that your approach to the working week remains flexible could make all the difference for you, your employees and your company.
About the author: Mark Wiggins is a Content Executive with Search Laboratory. He spent several years in a management role and has experience writing about a host of HR topics, including people management, staff motivation, and much more.