How we measure productivity

A five-day, 40-hour workweek may work well when output is measured by items coming down an assembly line, but productivity is different when it comes to knowledge work.

The pandemic disrupted standard ways of working and created an experiment where companies learned that productivity isn’t measured by hours in a chair.

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How to convince your boss to consider a four-day workweek

fastcompany.com

“Our best work never comes when we’re stressed and maxed out. It’s intuitive but research points to it, too. When you move to a four-day workweek with strong boundaries around when work starts and stops, employees are often more creative and more productive.”

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  • Researchers in Iceland tracked a group of 2,500 employees who worked a four-day workweek with the same pay and found that their wellbeing dramatically increased, and they reported less stress and burnout and better work-life balance.
  • Microsoft Japan experimented with a four-day workweek and experienced a 40% boost in productivity, although they’ve since discontinued the practice.

Most of us have heard of Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Adopting four-day workweek forces you to examine what you’re doing and drop the things you should not be spending time doing.

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  1. You need to set up hard and soft boundaries around your time. Hard boundaries are non-negotiable and soft boundaries are rules that can be relaxed when an emergency arises. The hardest part may be setting boundaries with yourself, especially if you’re self-employed or work from home.
  2. Then measure your progress to determine if the shift to four days is working well. Track how many hours you work and how much money you produce.

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No supervisor wants to look like they made numbers drop due to an experiment. They want credit for being innovative. 

  • Four-day workweeks often work best when an entire team is on the same schedule. To handle client emergencies, companies can put a contingency plan in place, with one person on call on a rotating schedule. H
  • Companies can try a four-day workweek as a two- to three-month experiment, or have one team pilot it to determine how it might impact others. Then hold a monthly 360-degree review to determine what’s going well and what needs adjustment.

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