In modern business, the concept of a nine-to-five working day is fast becoming obsolete. Innovative work arrangements, interconnectivity? and globalisation have all reshaped the way we think about exactly when – and where – we work.
With this in mind what is the most effective way to structure the time employees spend at work? We'll take a look at three widely-discussed methods and the potential effects, both good and bad, they could have on your workers, especially in staff engagement.
1) The compressed working week
Also known as the four day week, business leaders have frequently discussed this concept, and firms are starting to put these ideas into practice. Aside from the cost benefits from reduced transportation and a lower utilities bill, there are other significant advantages that can be seen in a shorter working week.
As workers have an extra day to dedicate to personal commitments, they are more likely to be focussed on work during the week.
As workers have an extra day to dedicate to personal commitments and relaxation, they are more likely to be focussed on work during the time they are there.
However, there are major considerations that companies need to address before adopting this structure. Productivity tends to drop over a long day and workers may not have the ability to remain focussed over 10 hours.
According to research published in the Connecticut Law Review, managers also saw negative effects in regard to less face time and difficultly in organising appointments.
Being 20 per cent less available for calls, meetings and other communication can have a major impact on client and customer relations. In many cases, employees will need to be present from Monday right through to Friday to keep everything running smoothly.
HR consultancy can be a great help in determining if your workplace is best suited to a four-day week or if another structure may be more effective.
2) The six hour day
On the other side of the coin, a number of firms in Sweden have introduced the idea of a six-hour day. In an September 10 blog post, Magnus Brath, founder of a self-titled web company, highlighted the positive changes he had witnessed since enacting this structure.
"[A] big benefit is that our employees produce more than similar companies do," he wrote.
"Today we get more done in six hours than comparable companies do in eight."
This enticing structure is also an important consideration for recruitment management. Offering potential candidates a fresh and creative way of working can be an excellent way to make your business stand out from competitors.
Again, companies need to consider this option carefully to ensure it is appropriate for unique business requirements.
Allowing workers the freedom to select their own hours can offer many benefits to both the company and employees. A study conducted by the Department of Employment concluded that there is good evidence to suggest that flexible arrangements have a positive impact on the health and safety of workers.
However, a lack of control and guidance can lead to poor time management and over-working in some cases. Researchers from the University College of London found that the risk of a stroke was 33 per cent higher in individuals who worked over 55 hours per week. When an employee is given control of their own schedule, they may find themselves doing extra work from home to maintain output.
In these cases, HR policies need to be revisited to implement an effective flexibility program. This may involve taking note of and establishing firm limits regarding the hours an employee spends working during a typical week.