The prospect of a 4-day week has been in the news recently, with companies and governments adopting or exploring the concept. The pandemic has also prompted reflection on how, where and when we work, and in many ways flexibility has come of age. Surveys show that more people are interested in flexibility around their working hours than in flexing their location of work.
So we spoke to Andrew Barnes, founder of the global 4-day week campaign. Innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew has made a career of market-changing innovation and industry digitisation. In New Zealand, Andrew triggered a revolution of the fiduciary and legal services industries, and the transformation he led as the founder of Perpetual Guardian has positive implications both locally and globally (as evidenced by his announcement of the 4 day week, which made headlines around the world).
Following this, he established the 4 Day Week Global and the 4 Day Week Global Foundation with his partner, Charlotte Lockhart. Their vision for this is to provide a community environment for companies, researchers/academics and interested parties to be able to connect and advance this idea as part of the future of work. Through this work he is on the advisory boards of both the US and Ireland 4 Day Week campaigns and the board of the newly created Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.
In this video of the intereview for the Smart Work Network’s July 2022 meeting, Andrew set out the aims, benefits, issues and options when adopting a 4 day week, in conversation wiht Smart Work Network Founder Andy Lake.
In the interview, Andrew refers to his book, written with Stephanie Jones. Its subheading runs “how the flexible work revolution can increase prosperity, profitability and wellbeing, and create a sustainable future.”
If those sound like big claims, they are backed up by copious evidence and case studies. The approach is both practical and rigorously business-focused.
The distinctive feature of this approach to the 4-day week is that it’s about reducing working hours while maintaining levels of pay and productivity. The authors argue that the time used within the 4 days can be much more productive, and that everyone’s happiness and productivity will be boosted by having more time away from work to enjoy recharge.
However, it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all. There are several different patterns possible, and in the authors’ view, employees should also have choice about how they schedule their working time. It’s not a simple case of a 3-day weekend, as it’s sometimes portrayed – depending on the nature of the work, people can distribute their reduced hours in more flexible ways.
The book is available from your local bookshop and from online retailers. Highly recommended!
For more insights on different approaches to 4-day weeks, check out this post on Flexibility.co.uk.