Why More Companies Should Accept a Work-From-Home Policy
The 4-Day Workweek
You’re probably thinking, “what does this have to do with health and fitness?” Well, your mental health is a huge part of staying healthy, especially once you have a full-time job.
We aren’t meant to sit in a cubicle for 40+ hours a week, and CEO’s are slowly starting to understand this. In fact, one company in New Zealand recently tested out a 4-day workweek. They let their employees work 4 days a week while still getting paid for 5, and they got to choose the extra day they could take off. They are the first company to not cut pay for working less hours. Which I’m sure most business people are cringing at right now, but founder Andrew Barnes makes a valid argument. He states, “A contract should be about an agreed level of productivity, if you deliver that in less time, why should I cut your pay?” (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/four-day-workweek-new-zealand.html).
I 100% agree with him. What’s the difference if I get my work done in 4 hours and sit in my cubicle doing nothing the rest of my 4 hours, or if I get my work done in 4 hours and go home? The work is done either way, the only difference is I have to sit here bored for another 4 hours and stress about sitting in traffic and all the chores I need to do when I get home. I feel stuck, stressed, and ultimately unhappy. And as a CEO, you’re probably thinking, if you’re done your work in 4 hours, then find more work to do! Well no that’s not how you create a positive work environment. That may have been acceptable 20 years ago, but now society is more focused on self-care and being less stressed.
The result of the 4 day workweek for Barnes and his company was more productivity and happier employees.
Gee, you don’t say! “The more than 240 employees who took part in the experiment reported a 7% decrease in a stress levels, a 24% increase in work-life balance, and a 20% increase in team engagement on average,” (http://fortune.com/2018/07/23/perpetual-guardian-four-day-work-week/).
I’m not sure why this surprises so many people. If you give your employees an extra day to relax and get all their personal errands done, they come back more energized and are more likely to give you their full attention. Seems logical to me.
The study also found that if you have less time to do things, you are less likely to procrastinate. With a 4-day workweek, people felt that they had less time to take a break to scroll on Facebook in the middle of the day instead of doing their actual work. Not to mention, a day off is heaven to your brain, as it allows your mind to reset.
Working from home
is more realistic to wish for than a 4-day work week. Obviously, not everyone has the ability to work from home. They might work in healthcare, entertainment, or hospitality where that just isn’t an option. But for the careers that sit in cubicles on a computer for most of their day, it’s feasible.
Now, some people have trouble working from home. They can’t focus, but they then still have the freedom to go to a public place like Panera or a library. I know a sales guy that doesn’t have a main office because he travels, and he can’t focus at home, so he rents his own office. But for those of us that get more done at home than work, it’s extremely beneficial to our productivity in and out of work to have that option.
Think about it. I can put a load of laundry in and work on a PowerPoint. When I’m done with the PowerPoint, I can put the clothes in the dryer. Boom. By the end of lunch my laundry is done and so is the work I had to do.
If you have dogs or children, you can spend time with them as well as get your work done. Which can also cut down on the cost of daycare or dog walkers.
You get the same work done, while also getting your personal chores done, and can even spend time with your family. This limits the stress of having to get up 2 hours early to get dressed, drop the kids off, sit in traffic for an hour, get to the office for 8 hours, sit in traffic again for an hour, pick up the kids, let the dog out, cook dinner, bathe the kids, and try to get a full 8 hours of sleep. You get those 2 extra hours of sleep! You get that extra time to cook a healthy dinner! You get to spend more time with family and doing what you enjoy! This limits your mental and financial stress tremendously! As a company, this positive work environment allows your employees to be more focused and motivated and less likely to leave.
In the DMV area, a lot of companies are start-ups,
run by younger generations, so the work from home atmosphere is more accepted. The issue usually lies in companies that are run by older generations who were taught the 9-5 office lifestyle. That’s what they’re used to and they refuse to change. They think people working from home is a waste of company resources because you may not be actually doing the work.
Well, Mr. CEO, maybe you should hire someone you can trust will get the work done regardless. If you don’t trust they’re actually getting the job done, no matter where they are physically located, you hired the wrong person.
Did I say that?
One problem with companies that don’t allow flexibility is that they won’t attract new, younger employees. Younger generations are more concerned about mental health, usually function better as multitaskers, and thrive in a work from home environment because that’s what they’re used to. Think about it. What is college like? You schedule your own classes. You usually study PowerPoints and read chapters on your own time. Then you go to class for an hour to reiterate those lessons, and they give you homework. Where do you usually do the homework? Home. Or somewhere on campus. You aren’t sitting in a room for 8 hours a day unless you choose to. We aren’t trained for office life. We’re trained to have class (or meetings in the real world) and then go back to our own schedule and get our work done on our own time. Only to graduate and ironically be put on someone else’s schedule. It doesn’t make much sense.
Everyone works and manages differently
And that’s the main point. Companies need to start respecting that idea more often. Without accepting this, and continuing to force your workers to work a strict schedule in their boring cubicle, you will keep your employees from working to their highest potential and high turnover rates will result from the high amounts of stress. If anything, a work from home option should be available when needed. It shouldn’t be: I’m sick and out of sick leave so I have to go to work and get everyone else sick. It snowed and I have to use leave to pick my kids up. I’d like to volunteer and coach my kid’s baseball team, but I will have to come in at 5am to make up the hours I’ll miss to make it to practice by 6pm. It should be hey, I’m going to get this done from home today so I can focus on getting better, so I can pick up my kids on time, so I can make a difference by coaching young children. As long you get the work done that you’re expected to, and show up to meetings when you’re expected to, there should never be an issue with this type of working environment. Hell, there was a time that I got more done at home with the flu for a week than I did at the office. I got to nap when I needed, still got my work done, and didn’t pass the flu around the office. It was a win for everyone.
Flexibility is important in our fast paced, technology-based world.
The companies who don’t start adapting to this, will continue to attract workers that aren’t working to their full potential. Or they will get those hard workers, but they won’t stick around long because of the lack of flexibility.
As they say, if you continue to do the same thing, you will get the same result. You have to make a change in order to see a change. Do you have huge turnover, or generally unhappy employees? Then maybe you should test one of these working methods out. Heck, even if your company is doing great, it could be doing better if you try something different. And you can always go back to your old ways if you don’t see the same results as Barnes and his company did.
PS: if we’re being honest…
How do you think I got this whole website done? I’m a hard worker and I get my work done quickly and thus I usually have a few free hours at work stuck in my cubicle. I use this rare spare time to create these things. Otherwise, I go home after work around 6pm, take care of the dog, cook dinner, shower, clean the house, and go to bed so I still get a solid 8-10 hours of sleep at night. I don’t even have kids yet! Imagine the lack of time I’d have then. I honestly don’t know how parents do it. But that’s a blog for another day.
There’s no room to do this kind of stuff unless I lose sleep or do some while I’m stuck at work. And loss of sleep is just another way to stress yourself out, so work it is. Oh, and if you’re wondering when I work out, it’s during my lunch break. I go to the gym for an hour instead of stuffing my face and gossiping with people in our monotonous office lunch room.
But guess what? I’m still getting all of my tasks done, I’m still getting paid the same, and you had no idea I wasn’t even doing work for your company. So, really, it’s the same as me not being in the office. So let me go home dude. Not all of us hate our home lives like some of you old CEO’s who have pissed all your wives off by working too much….how ironic.
Disclaimer: I mean no harm to any CEO or business owner. Just a joke. But in all seriousness, everyone needs to try it. The old 9-5 is out, and happier employees are in.