Nap Breaks, 4-Day Work Weeks | Hot Mic with Nidhi Razdan

How would you feel if your company decided to give you time to nap during office hours and reduced your working week to 4 days?

Hi,

This is Hot Mic and I'm Nidhi Razdan.

How would you feel if your company decided to give you time to nap during office hours and reduced your working week from five to four days? In a post-pandemic world, many companies are actually reimagining the workplace and believe it or not, these are now real incentives to retain talent. Many of us were working from home over the last couple of years and for plenty of people, it was a discovery to see what work-life balance looks like. Flexible working hours gave us more time to be with our families without the stress of having to physically commute to an office building. Which is why, as a post-Covid world reopens, many organizations are doing what they can to make the lives of employees more comfortable and more in line with the work-life balance that they have got used to. So recently, a start-up in Bengaluru announced half an hour in the day will be set aside for power naps for its employees in the office. The company is called Wakefit Solutions and they took to their official Twitter account to post two images detailing the right right to nap. Their co-founder recently sent an internal email to employees announcing that they can now take a quick nap between 2 and 2:30 pm every day. And then there is the concept of a four-day work week, which is now gaining steam in many countries. Importantly, it would be without any pay cut.

So is a four-day work week going to become the new normal? Well, a number of companies worldwide have pulled this off for a year or more. And Japan's government in fact, has recommended it as a national policy. It's not actually a new idea, but seems to have come under greater consideration after the pandemic. In fact, during the second wave of Covid last year, there were some Indian companies and start-ups that also temporarily introduced a four-day work week for their employees. These companies included, for example, Swiggy, ad agencies like DDB Mudra and MullenLowe Lintas and OYO. There's a Bangalore-based fintech start-up that's come up with a dramatic option to increase their talent pool, which is by having a three-day work week. The proposal is an attempt to garner more technology talent amid a shortage in Indian companies. Fintech company Slice is offering new hires, a three-day week with a salary at 80% of the going market rate. Now, those backing this move have cited studies which say that working four days a week instead of five actually increases productivity. Last year in Iceland, researchers found that a four-day work week, without a pay cut, improved the well-being and productivity of workers. For four years, researchers tracked 2,500 employees who reduced their work week to about 35-36 hours.

Now, according to a study published by Autonomy, which is a progressive think tank based in the UK, the researchers found that the worker well-being dramatically increased across a range of indicators - from stress and burnout to health and work-life balance. So, which countries are doing it? Well, Belgium introduced a four-day work week for those who want it. However, employees will not be working less. They just have to condense their working hours into fewer days if they want to. So they will be allowed the flexibility to decide whether they want to do four days a week or five days a week. Scotland is already experimenting with a four-day work week since January this year. In fact, it was a key campaign promise of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's parliament election campaign last year. Participating companies and organizations are doing one less working day, again with no loss in pay. Ireland is also doing a similar test, while Spain launched a three-year, 32-hour work week experiment as part of the country's economic recovery from Covid. Microsoft tried a four-day work week in 2019 in Japan, which resulted in a 40% rise in productivity. So this was even before Covid struck. And since then many other organizations have followed suit. For example, Unilever, which announced last November that it would be piloting such a schedule in New Zealand and then they'd replicate it if it succeeded after some time. According to new research from the Henley Business School in England, more than two-thirds of companies believe that offering a four-day week will be essential for the success of future businesses. The researchers in fact had already done one study on this in 2019, but then revisited it after the Covid crisis in November of 2021. They surveyed more than 2,000 employees and 500 leaders in the UK and concluded that the four-day work week positively affects well-being. 78% of employers said employees were less stressed at work, which was an increase of 5% from 2019 and a clear majority 70% agreed that shortening the work week improves their quality of life, while more than two-thirds thought that their mental health had improved with greater work flexibility. So, do you want to work four days a week? The choice could be yours. But as someone who speaks from experience, I can tell you that it is a terrific way to get to work.

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