Transformation is a constant in our unpredictable world. The way we work is going through a big shift, not least due to the pandemic sweeping across the globe. Remote work and the future of work are on everybody’s mind. Are we heading to a shorter workweek and a more flexible schedule?
What will the future of work look like?
The transformation of the workplace is in full swing. The defining features of the future of work are:
- The traditional office spaces are gone
- Office spaces aren’t just for work - think Google’s sleep pods!
- Remote work means work is not tied to a single location
- More contracts - freelancing and job-hopping are more desirable
Many of these changes took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced most businesses to rethink their workflow. Employees had to stay away from the office.
But remote work and the future of work have been coming for a while.
Technology has made it possible for workers to stay home and still get things done. Workers have pointed out their desire for better work-life balance.
Future of work might not just be about new types of offices and the occasional day working from home. The workweek itself might be under fire.
What does research say about a 4-day week vs. a 5-day work week?
A defining feature of today’s work is our 9-to-5, 5 days a week schedule. The 5-day workweek is almost synonymous with work across industries. But remote work and the future of work might be on the way to change that.
Science backs the idea of switching to a 4-day week. Companies have conducted trials across the world and the results are positive. One of the most cited results came from several trials taking place in Iceland between 2015 and 2019. Reykjavik City Council along with the national government included over 2,500 workers in a range of workplaces, from preschools to hospitals. Employees in these institutions moved from a 40-hour week to working 35 or 36 hours a week.
The findings found workers to:
- Feel less stress
- Have less risk of a burnout
- Experience improved work-life balance
- Spend more time with families, doing chores and engaging with hobbies
- Have the same or improved productivity
The final point is extremely important.
Productivity didn’t drop and it even improved in certain areas even though employees worked fewer hours but with the same pay. Around 86% of Iceland’s workforce has since shortened work hours.
Businesses need to understand that more hours worked does not result in higher productivity. Sanford University research into productivity and hours worked showed it long before the Iceland experiments. The research concluded how overworked employees are less productive. This is highlighted by studies on the world’s most productive countries. The top spots tend to go to countries such as Denmark and Germany where workers work on average around 27 hours a week. Countries where workers are notoriously overworked, such as Japan, fall lower on the list.
Research supports the 4-day workweek for the economic benefit as well. This isn’t just about maintaining productivity and keeping your employees smiling. Businesses that adopted the 4-hour week made savings of almost $127 billion each year. That is around 2% of their total turnover!
It is worth noting how a shorter workweek could benefit the environment as well. A 2012 analysis by the University of Massachusetts argued for the environmental benefits. The research paper estimated that one less working day in a week could reduce the carbon footprint by more than 30%.
How automation can help with a 4-day week
Remote work and the future of work point out the benefits of a 4-day workweek. A more flexible approach to when and where employees work could change the game.
The tools to work towards this future are already here. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) offer lots of opportunities to give your employees a break. As the studies suggest, employee productivity doesn’t fall with a shorter workweek. You can further improve productivity and maintain job satisfaction by implementing automation alongside a shorter workweek.
Automation allows you to shift some of the tasks away from the employer’s to-do list. Having a shorter workweek doesn’t mean your employees have fewer tasks to complete. With automation, you can ensure they don’t feel overburdened with tasks. You can guarantee employee focus goes on the most important tasks that can’t be automated.
A great example is the automation Contractbook can offer to your business practices. You can connect it directly to your CRM system and automate your sales journey. The program collects data and helps minimise risks in your contracts. Your team can focus on the activities that help close down sales rather than spend time on tweaking contracts. Research by McKinsey found it would be possible to automate 40% of the time spent on sales activities.
Automation has a whole host of benefits. Listing them all is almost an impossible task. The main advantages of automation include:
- Streamlining processes
- Identifying problems and bottlenecks in the workflow
- Reducing human error
- Reducing processing times
- Providing more insight with data and data analysis
You can automate processes to run at any time of the day. This can ensure your employees have freshly drawn contracts waiting in the morning when they come to work. You can make sure your business doesn’t stop sorting out invoices even on the weekends.
All these things add up. They save you time and money.
Remote work and the future of work - the bottom line
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the way businesses operate. It also had a lot of employers rethinking their approach to work.
The situation reminded us about the fragility of life.
It’s no wonder many have begun searching for something more than what’s available. Spending hours commuting is no longer something we accept.
Remote work and the future of work will help employees find a better balance in their lives. People can give their best when they have more flexibility when and where they work.
Companies will win in the process, too. A shorter workweek won’t damage productivity. As the studies have shown, it can help businesses save money and boost job enjoyment. Companies that haven’t started looking into remote work should get on it now. The future is already here.