Out of all the productivity tips for getting your employees to accomplish more and work efficiently, getting them to take more time off and making their breaks more frequent probably seems like the weirdest and most counterintuitive piece of advice.


And yet, a recent trend that’s been getting more and more traction as new cases of success stories come up is implementing a three-day weekend. This means that a company’s regular working schedule is Monday through Thursday. While this sounds like awesome news for employees, it’s hard to imagine that this schedule can lead to more work getting done.


Well, actually, the latest experiment by Microsoft Japan proved that having extended weekends as a part of your regular business strategy can increase productivity by as much as 39.9%. How? By being forced to cut down on meetings and use the time more effectively, but also by improving the general work-life balance. So, could this be the answer to improving productivity that both employers and employees will look forward to?


We’ll dissect the findings of the Microsoft project a bit further in the next section and then we’ll discuss how you can estimate whether this strategy works in your company by evaluating employees’ work, using employee time tracking app, etc.


Pros and Cons of Extended Weekends


The first major benefit of this system is an improved work-life balance. In fact, this is the main underlying point of having three days off in a week and one of the principal reasons behind Microsoft’s project. This strategy is aimed at preventing overwork and burnout, while at the same time giving employees more free time and more chances for personal development.


Better work-life balance in turn fuels employees’ motivation to perform better during the four work days. Plus, having more time off can be a deciding factor in improving job satisfaction. The results of the experiment at Microsoft actually showed that 92.1% of workers liked the program.


And finally, there were even some savings in costs recorded, such as for electricity and printing, which is very good news for your financial report.


Seemingly, a 3-day weekend schedule works for everyone, but unfortunately it’s not without its own limitations. The most striking of which is the fact that it’s not suited for just any industry and job role. For instance, customer support teams often have to work around the clock and not being available three days a week can prove devastating for the company and working around this problem by assigning less frequent shifts only means that you’d have to hire more staff.


However, for a lot of other professions, a shorter week means a boost in productivity and employee satisfaction and maybe a strategy worth testing out.


How to Tell if This Strategy Is Working?


Say you do want to take this system out for a test drive. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can approach analyzing your experiment and estimating whether it was a success or not. We’re going to mention three main things you can do to accomplish this: take into account how much work got finished and whether it was up to your standards, use employee time tracking app to put efficiency into numbers, and ask employees for their feedback.


Quality and Quantity of Work Getting Done


One of the most telling ways to figure out whether a 3-day weekend is an effective strategy is to consider the quality of work being produced. You can evaluate this yourself as a manager, or you can ask your clients for feedback as a more objective method to obtain this metric.


In addition to this, you should also consider the quantity of work in order to have a more complete picture of employees’ productivity. If you find out that employees are being more efficient, finishing more tasks, making more sales or whatever it is that you measure your success by, while also maintaining the same or higher standard of quality, then it’s pretty safe to say that an extended weekend does wonders for your team.


Data from Employee Time Tracking App


There are several features of employee time tracking app that can help you measure the effect of the new working schedule on productivity.


First, you might find out that you have a higher rate of attendance. Employees might be less likely to be late or to clock out early, and they might even have less idle time during their working hours. In fact, Microsoft found that employees took around 25% fewer days off while on this schedule, so you could expect to see some major improvements in attendance.


Secondly, your employee time tracking app may be able to directly track productivity as well. This way, you’ll be able to see exactly how much this aspect has changed and whether it was for the better. As a part of this, the system measures the amount of time workers spend on unproductive activities, so it’s a good idea to include this metric as well. Overall, employees who’ve had more time to relax and recharge their batteries can stay focused for a lot longer without getting distracted.


Finally, the outcome of all of this should be a greater number of billable hours in your employee time tracking app reports and more meaningful contribution to projects, which is an important segment of the success of this 3-day weekend system.


Employee Feedback


Finally, in order to evaluate whether this is something that you should consider implementing for the long run, it’s important to take the time and try to see how it affects your employees. Chances are they’re going to love it, but don’t take anything for granted. Some employees might feel additional pressure to accomplish everything they should within just four days, so the normal schedule might feel more stress-free for them.


You can pretty easily get a feel of the general atmosphere in your company during this trial period and estimate whether your employees seem more stressed and in a rush or whether they’re happier and more refreshed.


It’s best, however, that you corroborate your observations with a short survey that you can send out to employees. They will get a chance to tell you more clearly if they like the new system or not.


Conclusion


Put all of these insights and data into one complete estimate and you’ll see whether the 4-day week is something that could work for your teams as a regular strategy. Making this extended weekend a permanent thing will no doubt go towards maintaining a better work-life balance and increasing general productivity. And even if the experiment fails, you’ll have learned something invaluable about your employees that can inform your workflow organization. It’s a win-win situation, isn’t it?


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