Microsoft tested a four day work week early in November and found it boosted productivity. As a result, the four day work week is becoming a frequent topic of discussion among small business owners. However, these alternative work schedules have pros and cons. Here’s a few things that any small business should consider.
The Pros of a 4 Day Work Week
Some small business owners find that going to a four-day work week actually keeps employees motivated and helps them to avoid burnout. Tony Arevalo , the co-founder of Carsurance.net, explains why he’s leaning this way.
“I believe that employees who have the three-day weekend to tend to their families and personal stuff will be very motivated,” he writes. “They’ll do as much as possible to keep the job that enables them this kind of comfort.”
It’s tough to find and keep good people these days. Some small businesses have been using a four day work week to keep good workers for years now.
Rentwear In has used a 4-day workweek since the company was founded in the early 70s. They use alternative work schedules for hourly, sales, service and even executive staff.
Their retention rates prove this system works.
“Most of our team members have been here for over ten years, and that’s a stark contrast to the rest of our industry,” writes Connor Clay, Director of Marketing. “Other companies like ours have over 50% turnover year over year, while we only have about 5 to 10% turnover.”
Builds your Team
Groups working on projects together under tighter deadlines find ways to be more efficient and get tighter as a team.
Provides Lots of Variations
Gina Weatherup is the President of Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation. Weatherup says alternative work schedules include more than four-day weeks.
“The federal government has offered its employees several alternative schedule options for decades,” she writes. “Some workers do four, 10-hour days.” But Weatherup points out there are also other variations. “Some work five days a week but work from 6:30am to 3pm. Some workers do one or more telework days every week.”
The Cons of a 4 Day Work Week
There are other small businesses that don’t buy into these different types of work schedules. Here are a few of the problems they see.
Makes it Harder to Hit Deadlines
Small companies run on tighter schedules. Darko Jacimovic Co-founder of whattobecome.com, sees a possible problem when a small business is providing services.
“There’s less time to finish tasks,” he writes adding a four-day work week also requires some downtime to adjust to.
Not All SMBs Qualify
Some small businesses can’t afford to cut a day. For example, think restaurants and some online service industries like digital marketing. Real Estate is another industry that could suffer.
A Four Day Work Week Can Have a Negative Ripple Effect
Employee hours can change with a four-day work week. That can wreak havoc on other services like daycare scheduling for some families. As a result, small businesses need to consider this kind of possible ripple effect.
May Decrease Productivity
Matthew Ross is the co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard. The SMB tried a four day work week for two months and watched productivity fall.
He detailed what they found.
“In our audit, the first 60 minutes of each day was largely wasted. Since the employees had to arrive
earlier, they treated the first hour as their de-facto morning wake-up period,” he writes. “Furthermore, the last two hours of the day were not very productive either. It seemed like employees would just hit a wall around the eight-hour mark. “
Hinders Customer Service
Nicolas Straut is a marketing associate at Fundera. Straut mentions a possible problem with customer service and these types of work schedules.
“Customer-facing businesses often must be open 5 to 7 days per week. This may require that a few customer support or sales employees still work on extra days. Likewise, sales professionals may need to work an additional day to get in touch and close leads.”
It is okay if you consider the productivity of your workers. There is something about knowing that you only need to work for 4 days and get more rest.
As usual, this is something that should be an option, not a mandate. Some people will be able to maintain productivity over 10 hours and some people can’t. If cutting office expenses is a goal, let employees work from home on that 5th day and shutter the office. Flexibility is what business owners should be thinking.