Since the pandemic has ripped up the 9 to 5 playbook, managers are finally realizing that work doesn’t have to mean face time in the office al day, every day. Workers are making it clear that flexible, remote, and work from home arrangements are the future of the workplace.
The four-day workweek has been an experiment happening around the world with considerable success. As with other flexible working arrangements, the four-day work week does not mean less work. It means all the work in less time. That means it’s not for everyone, and managers must set clear expectations and choose the right people to succeed in a compressed working environment.
Michelle Fox, writing for CNBC online, says, “…fewer days doesn’t mean less work. Instead, it’s a matter of productivity, organization, and prioritization. Communication is streamlined, meetings are canceled.” It takes a special person to manage, let alone thrive, in this environment.
For decades, workers have been living under Parkinson’s Law, the adage that says “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have two days to finish a report, it will take two days. If you have five days in a work week, it will take you five days to get the work done. Some workers might have trouble adjusting their thinking and their internal organization process to finish five days of work in four.
If you’re thinking that you’d like to become part of the four-day workweek movement, here are some of the qualities you’ll need to demonstrate to a prospective employer.
First, you’ll have to prove that you know how to go all in on the days you’re in the office. When you’re present, you’ll need to be present. You’ll need to be fully focused on the task, the person, the most important thing in front of you. Your learning curve will be shorter, your lead times will be shorter, and your tolerance for slackers will be much shorter.
You’ll need to be very organized, to be able to focus intently, and prioritize easily. You won’t be able to waste time trying to figure out what to do next. You’ll need to know what’s most important right now and be good at estimating how long it will take you to get it done. Thinking ahead will become second nature. “If this needs to get done tomorrow, what needs to happen today?”
When you interview for a four-day opportunity, you’ll want to come prepared to talk about your razor-sharp focus, organizing skills, and tools you use to stay on track with minimal supervision. You should have some examples of times you managed projects on your own or worked successfully in a remote environment or on a project with a short timeline.
A four-day work week will certainly be more intense than a traditional five-day week, but it shouldn’t be grim. You should still enjoy your colleagues and the work – there will just be less slack in your day than before. If you’re totally present for four days, you can be totally present in your three-day weekend as well.
If you’re looking for companies that have transitioned to the four-day week, here’s a list at fourdayweek.com/companies, from Bolt’s Conscious Culture Initiative. Go to each company’s career page to look up jobs and sign up for job notifications via email.