Employer Branding

Can We Solve the Productivity Puzzle With a Shorter Working Week?

For over a century, the five-day working week has been a pillar of the business world. Employees reported to a desk in an allocated building and worked allocated hours. However, technology has allowed employee expectations to change rapidly, as the modern workforce demands a more flexible approach. With traditional views on how to tackle the productivity puzzle seemingly outdated, it’s inevitable that the conventional working week will be disrupted.

In fact, forward-thinking organizations have already introduced a four-day week. Unsurprisingly, employees are in favor. Research commissioned by Ricoh Europe found that more than half of European workers (57%) believed that technology will be key to bringing about a four-day working week in the near future as it improves their productivity and efficiency.

Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay. A study of the trial revealed productivity increased in the four days they worked. Among the Perpetual Guardian staff, they found scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation, empowerment, and commitment all increased compared with a 2017 survey.

This demonstrates that the answer to improving productivity doesn’t lie in pushing employees to work harder or longer hours. Instead, understanding how best to accommodate their needs is key to bringing forward significant business development and growth.

Shared workspaces, shared values

Although the desire to achieve a better work/life balance seems like a recent development, it isn’t specific to the young. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z, generations are coming together over shared values. Factors such as wanting to perform at the highest level possible, well-being programs, mobile working and a sense of autonomy are all equally popular among different generations.

Improving employee skills and enjoyment

The move to a four-day working week may not be a widespread reality yet. However, the majority of employees, regardless of their age group, are keen to increase their productivity through training and technology.

Over half (51%) of workers agree that smart applications of technology help them in their role. Meanwhile, 69% would like to use tech to be more efficient by speeding up processes, facilitating collaboration, and making routine tasks easier.

A united vision

These findings paint an encouraging picture. Employees are united by their desire to make an impact at work and achieve more. This shows that businesses are not alone in their desire to tackle the productivity puzzle. As a result, leaders should look at fresh, innovative ideas to help encourage this. The arrival of Gen Z in the workplace offers a new perspective to the hard-earned experience.

The key to improving productivity lies in supporting and motivating a united workforce. Leaders need to demonstrate trust by giving employees the flexibility to operate in a way that allows them to achieve their potential without negatively impacting other areas of their life.

About the author:  Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services enabling individuals to work smarter. For more than 80 years, Ricoh has been driving innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, communication services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2019, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,013 billion yen (approx. 18.1 billion USD).

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