So far we have heard many praises about the well-being for the professional associated with the four-day work week: fewer days of work is equivalent to less stress and greater conciliation. However, several recent studies question these claims and point out that, paradoxically, working less can increase the pressure on the employee and make it more difficult to disconnect.
more stress. And study on the pilot of the reduction of the working week carried out in New Zealand points out that working four days instead of five intensified the tasks and the pressure of the bosses around productivity, so that a significant part of these employees were they felt more stressed and experienced no real change in their well-being.
In fact, some of the workers who tried this New Zealand experiment confessed that the urgency and pressure to which they were subjected made the extra day off null and void, because they ended up so tired and stressed by the intensity to which they were subjected that that third day off they had to use it to recover strength, instead of taking advantage of it for leisure or housework. Other professionals, on the other hand, pointed out that they found this higher pace of work stimulating.
disconnection problems. In relation to this, a recent Harvard Business Review article This greater stress is linked to a greater difficulty in disconnecting from work. The university publication cites a 2011 investigation in which it was concluded that people who have more intense workloads are more likely to think about them outside of their working day and do not manage to disconnect until they have solved their problems.
And this is aggravated among professionals who lead teams or have a certain responsibility in the company, according to another study, since in these cases the workers feel that they always have to supervise everything and they worry that something is beyond their control and has negative consequences for them. the results of the division or group they lead.
Fewer interactions. The New Zealand pilot project study also found that the increased work intensity associated with the reduction to four working days caused employees to focus more on their tasks and significantly reduced social interactions with co-workers, which, according to participants, reduced the creativity and innovation that occurs in informal chats with colleagues.
Depends on the situation. The authors of the Harvard Business Magazine article reflect on the negative and positive results of the four-day workweek studies and come to several conclusions. The main one is that the model is neither good nor bad per se, but depends on the company and the way it is applied.
Thus, for example, they point out that in a company in which its workers already register high levels of stress with a 40-hour day, the reduction to 32 hours per week will not improve well-being or translate into greater productivity, because what you need that company is reorganizing the way they work to keep employees from feeling so pressured. And then, when they figure that out, maybe the four-day workweek can actually pay off.
Therefore, the authors conclude that companies should not approach the four-day work week as something monolithic, but monitor the real state of their workers, find out what problems exist so that they have greater well-being at work, and approach them with an open mind. and flexible solutions, within which the four-day work week can be one of them, but not the only one to reduce stress and increase productivity.
Image | Andrea Piacquadio