Is a seven-day flexible work week the future?

Could moving to a seven-day flexi week make businesses more productive? Lucie Mitchell reports.

night working

 

With increasing numbers of employees craving true flexibility and a better work-life balance, it’s crucial that organisations embrace a culture of flexibility if they want to recruit and retain the best talent and remain competitive.

Research has shown that flexible working arrangements can improve employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Plus, a study by Warwick University found that engaged employees are 12% more productive – and increased productivity will in turn improve an organisation’s bottom line. Some employers are already offering their employees the option of a flexible seven-day work week to provide them with the flexibility they require.

In fact, data by Joblift revealed that job ads featuring seven-day flexibility are growing at six times the average rate. Plus, a recent report by Worksome revealed that many employees are in favour of a seven-day flexible week – almost half of the respondents said that spreading their work across the whole week would increase their work-life balance; and 47% of 25-34-year-olds stated that the ability to work across seven days would significantly cut their childcare costs.

“The point is not that people should now also work weekends; instead it’s that flexibility is by far the most attractive perk a business can offer its employees,” remarks Morten Peterson, CEO and co-founder of Worksome. “The option to be able to spread work across the whole week provides employees more freedom day-to-day to create a work-life balance.”

There are business benefits too, adds Bethany Ainsley, an award-winning wellbeing coach and founder of Nouveau Group. “With the right team, it could allow a business to increase operating hours, boost revenue and improve customer satisfaction and retention whilst also reducing staff sickness and attracting new talent.”

Outside the 9-5

Whether you could consider offering a flexible seven-day week may depend on a number of factors, such as the industry within which you operate, company size and the type of job roles in the organisation. However, there are certain jobs that may be particularly conducive to this way of working.

“Any roles that are technology, marketing or communications-based thrive when given the flexibility of a seven-day working week, as these roles often extend to outside of the normal 9-5 working hours,” comments Ainsley.

Other jobs that may suit this kind of flexibility include those involving e-commerce, online businesses such as digital or design firms or some customer service roles.

One company that has implemented a flexible seven-day working week is digital marketing firm Acquiro Digital.

“Many of our clients don’t subscribe to the 9-5, Monday-Friday working model, so it’s important that we can adjust and be available when they need us,” explains Kat Foster, marketing director at the firm. “Our approach is simple, we trust our staff to do the work that needs to be undertaken, and if that means spacing their hours out across the week to encompass the weekend, that’s fine. Our employees have benefited from this greatly, allowing parents to better schedule childcare, and also make the most of the time where they know they’re freed up to work.”

By offering a seven-day week, the firm has seen a marked increase in employee productivity, plus it’s enabled them to source key talent. “By giving employees the ability to set their own schedule and be accountable for their time management and communication during this time, we’ve also seen an increase in employee engagement,” she adds.

Open to change

To ensure the move to a seven-day flexible week is successful, you must be open to change and a new way of working and ensure that the technology is there to support flexible working.

“The seven-day week requires the right team, too,” remarks Ainsley. “It takes hard-working employees with excellent communication skills. However, if a business is using flexibility as a tool to attract higher-level talent, this shouldn’t be a problem.”

Peterson adds: “It’s a matter of keeping track of how office coverage will be maintained, how schedules will be coordinated, how effective channels of communication will be maintained, how tasks will be completed, and how performance will be evaluated.”

Whether a flexible seven-day working week will gain in popularity and become commonplace remains to be seen. However, businesses can’t ignore the fact that flexible work arrangements can and do attract talent – especially amongst the millennial generation.

“With millennials set to make up 35% of the global workforce by 2020, the seven-day working week will only increase in popularity,” comments Ainsley. “Research shows that businesses need to look at expanding normal work hours, or risk losing their core teams as they move towards having more control over their own work-life balance.”



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