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The four-day work week: Can it be done?

7 February 2020 at 3:41 pm
Maggie Coggan
We take a look at how your organisation can adopt a four-day week 

Maggie Coggan | 7 February 2020 at 3:41 pm


The four-day work week: Can it be done?
7 February 2020 at 3:41 pm

We take a look at how your organisation can adopt a four-day week 

The argument for the four-day work week is divisive. Some say it boosts productivity and staff well-being, while others say it’s unsustainable and bad for business. 

Recently, companies such as Microsoft Japan and Perpetual Guardian, and progressive political figures such as the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, have all backed the model. But for smaller, resource-strapped charities and community organisations, is it actually possible? 

According to recruitment agency Beaumont People, which has just spent the past six months researching the model for a three month trial in its own workplace, it is.     

We sat down with managing director Nina Mapson Bone to find out how.  

Hey Nina! So first up, what are the benefits of a shorter working week? 

Studies in Australia have found increased engagement and productivity and lower levels of stress.

Do you think a smaller, resource-limited charity would have trouble doing something like this? 

I think a four-day work week can work for anyone and it needn’t cost any extra money. What is challenging is ensuring that the services that you deliver or the products that you offer are still managed effectively.  

How can they manage that? 

One of the things we’ve done in our trial is put in place a rotating roster so that every time someone has a day off, they have a buddy that can step in if anything needs to happen on the day that person isn’t there. This kind of system could potentially work in any organisation, regardless of size, but it does require good teamwork and a good understanding. 

We also agreed that because we’re still being paid full time we could have the day off but we would be on call for emergencies. So you’re not expected to respond to emails, but we do have to have our phones on us and be able to respond if an emergency comes up. 

Any other tips before you go? 

If you’ve got a small team, this is something you’ll have to think a bit more strategically about, but it certainly can be managed, and if it increases your productivity and your staff engagement that’s only going to end up having better outcomes for the services you provide in your charity sector, which is really important. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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