Making a four-day work week work

Regardless of whether an organisation has adopted a four-day work week, hybrid work, remote work, or a full return to office, what is clear is that everyone is facing the challenge of adapting to a more asynchronous work day. By Nigel Mendonca.

 

There’s been a lot of chatter around the four-day work week in Australia and New Zealand lately. This shortened week, which crams working hours into four days to give employees an extra day of downtime, is something that has been trialed by  organisations in ANZ and abroad, followed with interest and met with excitement and enthusiasm by many.

But regardless of whether an organisation has adopted a four-day work week, hybrid work, remote work, or a full return to office, what is clear is that everyone is facing the challenge of adapting to a more asynchronous work day. So how does the business community solve the productivity challenge we face in this new reality? The answer is actually quite simple– employees need better ways to collaborate and communicate, regardless of their work schedules or locations.

Creating more seamless collaboration and communication

A big concern associated with asynchronous work, especially the four-day work week, revolves around the potential of teams now working at different times. Some team members may follow a Monday to Thursday work schedule, while others follow a Tuesday to Friday, or adopt alternative arrangements altogether. Multiple schedules become even more complicated when you factor global teams into the mix – different team members working various days and in several time zones. 

So, how can organisations enable employees and external partners to effectively communicate and collaborate across different working hours? By using collaborative work management technology.

This type of tech serves as a nerve centre for all work within an organisation. Everyone has access to plan and track the information they need, update their work in real time, to give visibility to others and even set up automated prompts to request updates from colleagues. This allows for real-time collaboration and communication– a virtual office, per se.

 For example RMIT Studios, a division of RMIT University, was able to do this through adopting collaborative work management technology. The RMIT team used this tech to build an overall team roadmap that visualises the team’s whole project portfolio. This allowed them to manage and prioritise the work being done across teams, all from one single dashboard.   

 Democratising innovation with new tech

Bringing teams together through the use of a single platform can help with different work schedules, but businesses need to recognise that asynchronous work has also led to a more empowered and decentralised workforce – and that can be a good thing. Rather than dictating where and when employees should get their work done, organisations can now tap into their frontline employees’ insights and ask them how they should be getting their work done based on their real-world experience and expertise.

Using a “no-code” tech platform can help employers make those insights actionable, faster. No-code tech refers to tools or platforms that allow employees to create applications without the need or ability to write code, i.e. they are intuitive and easy for a layperson to understand and get value out of.

 These tools are quick to learn and lower the technological barriers to innovation within an organisation– allowing the entire workforce to create new systems and applications that previously only developers or IT teams could. This is important as frontline employees hold some of the most valuable insights. The goal of any no-code platform is to enable employees to utilise their insights and experiences and give them tools to create new processes that reflect and benefit their reality. 

 Construction giant A.G. Coombs used no-code technology to help it with new Covid protocols, including the creation of an office cleaning checklist with detailed reminders, site staff mapping to record exactly where all employees were throughout the course of a workday, and daily staff surveying to track potential symptoms and contacts with other people. 

All this helped its HR team follow up on confirmed cases among staff members or their contacts if required. And all this data was captured in a dashboard that allowed managers to monitor the status of their teams, and automated reminders ensured that people completed surveys and checklists required for their roles. By taking a no-code approach, A.G. Coombs was able to quickly ensure a safe work environment for their employees during the pandemic.

 Making work meaningful

The benefit of a central, no-code work management platform is that it allows teams to focus on important work, helping to boost morale and employee engagement. 

 A busy workload can be reduced tremendously by unifying all information into one central hub and streamlining processes. Additionally, collaborative work management platforms can analyse insights from employees, which can nurture an environment where employees are more engaged by actively tapping into strategic and creative tasks. 

 Although the future of work is rapidly evolving, the four-day work week will not be the catalyst for solving all workplace issues. The workforce landscape is constantly changing, therefore, it’s important to ensure that organisations are consistently implementing processes and structures powered by easy-to-use technology that can cater to the dynamic workforce of today – no matter where or when they’re working.

 Nigel Mendonca is Smartsheet’s vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan, and is responsible for leading Smartsheet’s APJ business operations and establishing it as the enterprise platform for work management in the region.

 

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