The four-day work week is having its moment.
In a six-month experiment that is the largest of its kind in the world, 70 companies in Britain are currently allowing staff to work a four-day week without a reduction in wages. Meanwhile, in Singapore, the Minister of State in the Manpower Ministry is encouraging workplaces to adopt flexible work practices, and this is preferred by most as reported by The Straits Times. When it was first announced that Food News would be transitioning to a 4.5 day work week in a bid to improve work-life balance and increase productivity, the news was met with much jubilation from the team.
After all, who doesn’t want more downtime?
And yet, one restaurant that tried out a four-day week actually did away with it in less than a year. Reported by Channel News Asia, the restaurant staff “complained they were more tired with three staggered days off in a week.” So, does a shorter work week actually ‘work’? Or are employees plagued with worries of not meeting deadlines on time, or are there workaholics who admit to being bored? After experiencing our first few #FreedomFridays, here is what FoodNewsers have to say.
Resounding Cheers For Friday Afternoons Off
Managing Director Ivy cheers to #FreedomFridays with early Friday wine ‘o’ clock
Without a doubt, the 4.5 day work week received a unanimous vote of approval from the team. Instead of working on Friday afternoons, Project Executive Desiree says, “I am grateful for the extra half day to run errands which I would otherwise cram in on the weekend”. Echoing her enthusiasm is Chihiro, our in-house Graphic Designer, who says, “I feel like I have a longer weekend and get to have more “me time”. Previously, Sunday would come too quickly. It really changes the weekend’s perspective!” Meanwhile, Content Producer Julianna shares that the reduced work days “will take some getting used to”, but ultimately agrees that she “feels great” about the new development.
Keeping Motivation Levels High
While it may be too early to measure how the new 4.5 day work week would impact productivity levels, most of the FoodNewsers reported feeling more motivated for the upcoming work week. Creative Producer and in-house photographer Elsen shares that “knowing that the company cares about our welfare gives us the extra motivation to work harder for the team” while Julianna states, “I do feel a lot more motivated in ensuring my 4.5 days will be efficient!” Speaking from another perspective, Chihiro shares that, “I won’t say I’m more motivated, instead I would say there is increased focus. Knowing that I have a shorter work week, I am working faster and efficiently, likely as I feel more rested”.
Shorter Work Weeks Make For Happier Colleagues
Content Lead Priyanka has more time to spend with her children without compromising on work. Here is her Friday evening activity of building sandcastles with her daughter at ECP
A keen observation of the shorter work week and its impact on our colleagues is the increase in happiness level throughout the work week. Priyanka, who is our Content Lead and a mum of two, says that “the extra time with my kids eases my mum guilt a little, allowing me to be more focused on powering through to meet deadlines, and then look forward the ‘extended weekend’”. She also finds herself looking forward to Monday a lot more with this new schedule. Similarly, Chihiro shares that she is “actually excited to go back to work”, admitting that “I feel bored if I don’t have anything to do!”.
Mitigating Challenges And Hurdles
With the shorter work week, one concern that often comes up is whether team members will have to compensate for the extra day off. Indeed, Communications Consultant Ariel shares, “I was a little anxious at the beginning, thinking that I have to work longer hours to complete the same amount of work. However, this worry actually pushes me to manage and prioritise my tasks more efficiently, as well as reduce the number of distractions”.
Another key concern was ensuring that our clients continue to feel confident that their needs would still be met despite the team taking Fridays off. To ensure a seamless transition, clients were informed of the new arrangement weeks in advance. There is also always someone “on call” for emergencies.
Photo Credit: Canchita Peruvian Cuisine
Thankfully, the support has been encouraging. “I think it is a brilliant idea!” shares Celvin Chiang, General Manager at CANCHITA Peruvian Cuisine. Recognising the importance of a work life balance, he says that there are “not much” worries about the team’s responsiveness or productivity.
Speaking about her decision to implement the 4.5 day work week, Managing Director Ivy says that “We are very fortunate to have a super dedicated team, but they, unfortunately, do not know how to switch off because of our work-from-home arrangement! Last year, we offered everyone an extra day off every two weeks. But it became a hassle to coordinate those days off from week to week. So, I decided to simplify the system and just make it an easy, breezy, half day off on Fridays.” As the team eases into week three since the 4.5 day work week was announced, the excitement is palpable as Friday draws nearer; plans are being made, and recommendations shared.
When Monday comes, we are enthusiastic about facing a new week once more.