You say 3-day weekend, I say 4-day working week. But do the numbers add up? SG World CEO, Mark Haase, thinks it’s a formula for success and is introducing this progressive working model as part of a Live Better initiative at the Crewe site.
For SG World there are two main drivers behind the move, a firm conviction that this is a better way of working and a commitment to a work/life balance. The advent of COVID has forced changes to established working patterns. Afterall, the traditional 5-day, 40-hour work week is rooted in the early 19th century. Those days are long gone, the workplace and society have changed irrevocably. During lockdown, like many of us, Mark spent more time at home, having dinner with the family and going on long walks with the kids. He quickly came to the conclusion that he hoped to retain this lifestyle when things returned to normal and that a 4-day week may be a way to achieve this.
Support for a 4-day week has gained a new momentum over the past year. Campaigners argue there are overwhelming benefits for society, the economy and the environment. A greater opportunity for recuperation, exercise, socialising and spending time with loved ones translates into improved mental and physical health outcomes. Earlier this year, trials of a 4-day week in Iceland’s move to a 4-day week in the public sector, were heralded as an "overwhelming success" with the research showing productivity remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces. A number of other trials are now being run across the world, including in Spain and by Unilever in New Zealand.
Mark recalled that, “I had a plan to make it work but it was actually England Captain, Harry Kane who provided the perfect opportunity to test it out, with the winning goal in the Euros Semi. Because the Final was held on a Sunday, I decided to give everyone Monday off as an extra paid day’s holiday. Despite the disappointing match result, everyone had a definite spring in their step on Tuesday.”
This is just the latest step for SG World. They have already empowered staff to implement change, expanded their skills base to work more efficiently across functions and where practical, adopt working from home. In addition to plans for a 36 hour working week, there is a proposal to limit meetings to a 45 minute duration and keep Mondays meeting-free. “I want to stop people being bogged down with ineffectual back-to-back meetings,” reflected Mark. “Being more focused during meetings means having more time out of meetings to concentrate on getting the job done.”
“Of course, we know the transition isn’t going to be straightforward and that is why we are investing the time and effort in these early stages. We have already implemented a phased pilot and will use the feedback to learn what works for us and refine the model. The objective is very simple – it needs to be better for us, our customers and stakeholders. I am confident that, together, we can make this work and ‘Live Better’ will achieve this for everyone.”