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Is the Concept of a 4 Day Work Week New?

27th Sep 2022
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Kefron provides a range of information management solutions including Document Scanning, Accounts...
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4 day work week

 

Reducing the hours of the traditional work week is an idea that has been around for some time. In fact, as early as 1930, renowned British economist John Maynard Keynes estimated that within a couple of generations a 15 hour work week would be achievable through advancements in technology and productivity. Now the 4 day work week is steadily gaining attention. By 4 day work week I mean one with reduced hours from the standard 40 hours per week to 32 hours with the same pay and benefits, not a compressed work schedule.

So, why consider transitioning to this option? And if the decision is made to go for it, how can it be implemented efficiently?

Can productivity be maintained with less hours worked?

While businesses are understandably cynical about maintaining productivity levels with reduced hours, studies to date are showing very positive results. Microsoft conducted an experiment in 2019 in Japan and found the results to be overwhelmingly positive for both the employees and the company. Productivity increased by 40%. Not only this, but there were significant environmental benefits as electricity and office resources were saved – the number of pages printed decreased by 58.7%, while electricity consumption was down by 23.1%.

Currently in the UK the largest 4 day work week experiment to date is being undertaken with research conducted by Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College. It involves over 70 companies and is being championed by the non-profit organisation 4 Day Work Week Global. Though the experiment only started in June, the managing director, Charlotte Lockhart, has stated that so far, “companies are suggesting there’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience with revenue and productivity levels, that have either maintained, or in some cases, improved.” Despite working less hours, studies are finding that productivity and revenue remain consistent or even improve with a 4 hour work week, but how is this happening?

Gallup, the international researcher, has found that highly engaged teams are 21% more motivated. A 3 day weekend can provide great motivation to employees as it gives them extra incentive to work, as well as reducing stress, and preventing burnout. These, in turn, improve an employee’s productivity. The success of any company relies heavily on the wellbeing of their employees. A longer weekend allows individuals to allocate time to personal development and social missions, which results in being better for both your business and the community. A happier workforce can improve customer experience as well, better securing repeat business. Companies in the 21st century should be more focused on results rather than the time spent working, to put simply prioritise quality over quantity.

63% of those who have already implemented shorter working hours are finding it easier to attract and retain staff. Lowering the turnover of a company builds consistency, as well as reducing the time and stress involved in frequent replacing of the workforce. Thus, a company can allocate more time to tasks that would better benefit the business.

How do you implement a 4 day work week?

The question now is how does a company go about making this happen for them? Hard work alone will not suffice and overworking staff will defeat the purpose of the shortened week. In addition, hiring additional staff will be more expensive than it is worth. Here at Kefron, we believe that the answer lies in the use of smart technology, by which we mean productivity tools, business process management systems, and automation technology. Not only can a business gain a reputation as innovative and forward thinking by offering a 4 day work week, but they can benefit considerably by utilising modern smart technology.

Kefron’s AP automation system for instance is currently used by over 200 companies to automate their accounts payable and bookkeeping process. It is a technology that is widely used and significantly reduces the amount of manual entry involved in processing invoices. With 6 years of experience helping finance teams streamline their finance function,  we see a saving of 70% of time spent operating a manual process. In addition, AP automation can help finance teams reduce:

  • manual entry into ERP systems by a minimum of 60%
  • time spent matching POs to invoices by 60%
  • time spent on duplicates by 80%
  • the number of supplier queries by 50%
  • approval chasing by 67%
  • finding documents is made more efficient by 80%

By decreasing the manual input of data, the AP automation software frees up time and capacity. Furthermore, it increases accuracy and consistency as human error is eliminated. Approval is sought automatically and a reminder sent every day until the preassigned person approves it, further lessening the stress and time spent in relation to the chasing up of approval.

Conclusion

So, a 4 day work week sounds like a great idea with promising initial results. The benefits for the individual will result in increased productivity, and therefore, profit for the individual’s company. Though one must keep in mind that research is still being conducted and it may not be feasible for every organisation, it certainly is an option worth exploring. Whether or not your business decides to implement this option, smart technology is a great way to save time in the short to medium term, as well as facilitate the process of introducing a 4 day work week. AP automation is an accounting solution which can greatly benefit any financial team regardless of their situation and this has been proven repeatedly.

If you are interested in learning more about accounts payable invoice automation, speak with a Kefron expert.