Over the last six months, I’ve had a unique opportunity to rethink everything about my company. Aside from working on the value proposition and all those good things needed to carve out a niche, I’ve been thinking about work-life balance. And not just for me – for staff, too.
So many times, we hear people and businesses go on about it, but I don’t think any of that really works in the long term. Various efforts are made to give people social / team based activities and give other perks while at work. However, the pressures of client deadlines, work schedules, etc., all conspire to force us to work longer hours and make us sacrifice the things we were going to do to get the balance we need.
Then there are the weekends. How often do you feel like you’ve only just wound down and then realise it’s Sunday? And then the grind starts again.
I think a more radical approach is needed to achieve work-life balance and to do something for staff that properly differentiates the working environment from others to make it an attractive place to work. I think that truly, the last thing people really want is to have time filled with team bonding activities when they could’ve been at home instead or doing something else completely different.
Starting from 2013, I’ll be instituting a four day working week for all staff. That is, the whole company will operate on a four day week – Monday to Thursday – with Friday a mandatory day off for everyone.
How will this work? Simple. No change to salary (same pay), no change to annual leave (four calendar weeks), no change to billable hours (32 hours per week). I only expect people to bill 32 hours per week anyway. The company’s profitability models are based on 32 hours. Why not do that in four days instead of five? After all, we all know the maxim – Work fills the time available.
Rather than trying to invent the next contrived activity to keep people motivated and create an attractive workplace with other meaningless games and trinkets, why not give people what they really want – the time to the things they’d rather be doing than going to work. And here’s another maxim – Who, on their deathbed, ever said they wished they had spent more time at work?
I think the only real way to achieve work / life balance is to have more time for the life component. Just imagine what you can do with a three day weekend, every week.