Man was not born to be an appendage to a giant invisible economic machine. Unfortunately, he is being reduced to precisely that existence, thanks to the primacy of economy, business, trade and commerce in the modern world. In such a situation, TAC, a company working in the cybersecurity space, has switched to a four-day week. It has been keeping its office closed in Mumbai for the past seven months. The company has done it following an internal survey when four-fifths of the employees said that they are willing to put a few hours of extra work for four days to get leave for three days. If the results are satisfactory, TAC will formalise the move into a policy statement.
In a super-competitive atmosphere when managers proudly claim to send out work-related WhatsApp messages to their teams at the dead of night expecting an early response, many may baulk at the idea of a four-day week. However, those who do not hopelessly suffer from misplaced workplace valour, might consider the salutary effect of a longer weekend than is currently practised.
Four-day weeks are gaining popularity in some countries. In 2019, the Microsoft office in Japan recorded 40% efficiency gains from a four-day week. A New Zealand estate planning company, Perpetual Guardian, reported 20% productivity gains in 2018 following the same model. The Unilever unit of New Zealand announced in December 2020 that it would begin a one-year trial with a four-day schedule. Japan, a country of workaholics, is pushing for employers to adopt four-day weeks in its annual economic policy guidelines. The concept of a four-day week is, however, not new with US vice-president Richard Nixon predicting in the 1950s that it would become the norm in the “not too distant future.”
It must be noted that those companies that measure output and not time can only dare to experiment with this model. The MD of Unilever New Zealand said that the new schedule represented a shift in which the company viewed its workers. Corporate India is going through high-profile changes with technocrats and young entrepreneurs launching prominent business ventures. Most of these men and women have in them elements to become business leaders not only in the restricted sense of bottomlines and shareholder returns. Some of them should experiment with the forward-looking idea of four-day weeks to leave a permanent imprint on the country’s economic history.
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