Henry Ford is credited with reducing the work week from six to five days. Ford was not really known for his compassionate management style, so why did he voluntarily reduce the number of employee work hours? Ford discovered that when you shorten the work week, employees make fewer errors, they tend to work harder and are more productive.
Does working less result in producing more? Studies conducted by Microsoft in Japan, Shake Shack and dozens of other companies worldwide, confirm that the answer is yes. Condensing the work week results in fewer errors and greater productivity. And when employees were asked in a national survey if they would prefer working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, an amazing 92% of them said yes. More than a third of survey respondents said they would agree to a pay cut to work four instead of five days a week.
92% is an amazing number. It’s a higher percentage of people who believe that the Earth revolves around the sun. Is there anything that could be more popular? What employees want even more than a four-day work week is the freedom to set their own hours. That’s a lesson many BKBG showrooms learned during COVID when many team members had no choice but to work from home and set their own schedules. Showrooms could trust their teams to meet deadlines, perform and provide exceptional customer experiences without having to be in the showroom five days a week from nine to five. In a retail environment, there is a need for a physical human presence in a showroom to respond to walk-in traffic, to troubleshoot immediate problems, etc. However, at a time when attracting and retaining best-in-class talent is at a premium, providing team members flexibility to set at least part of their schedule may make sense. And even the biggest advocates of a four-day work week point out that does not mean a three-day weekend. Nor does a revised work schedule mean that you have to modify the hours your showroom is open.
Providing the team with flexibility to set their own schedules helps to better achieve work-life balance. It provides parents opportunities to watch more games, attend more recitals, school plays and be present at other similar activities. An ideal schedule is not a one-size-fits-all for every team member and showroom.
When you offer team members schedule flexibility, you make the statement that you understand balancing work and life is difficult, but you trust your team to be responsible and professional in a way that makes sense for the business, their customers and themselves.