Attracting and retaining talent is often the most challenging thing for business owners. And it’s for that reason many are turning to the four-day work week to keep great staff.
But can this new way of working be a good model for every business? Only some people agree.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the move away from the traditional 40-hour work week. With people shifting to flexible work arrangements, it has become increasingly popular for employees to work four days and get a three-day weekend without a pay cut.
Research has shown that productivity levels and staff satisfaction go up. In Iceland, a study found that four-day workweeks were beneficial to workers. A shorter workweek would be a way to improve mental health and even fight climate change.
Spain launched a 32-hour workweek experiment as a response COVID- 19 to improve work/ life satisfaction. The 2020 pandemic, of course, sharpened issues around well-being, burnout, and work-life balance. In addition, Ireland has been testing a four-day workweek.
Now more and more companies are getting interested globally. More and more businesses are getting interested in offering their employees an extra day off, inspired by Microsoft’s four-day workweek trial in Japan, which resulted in a 40% boost in productivity.
Several other organizations have followed suit since then. The British arm of Canon has tried a four-day workweek. Last November, Unilever announced it would pilot a four-day week in New Zealand.
In the U.S, where the 40-hour work week was adopted in 1940, now Kickstarter, Bolt, Buffer, and DNSFilter all have four-day work weeks, the latter launching their model in 2021.
Marc Elkiner, a co-founder of sharingbox – which provides engaging photo and video experiences, believes a hybrid model would be more effective for employees.
He said: “My approach changed tremendously after the pandemic. I realized having a positive work-life balance is incredibly important, in fact it’s essential.
“I think it really helps people to have three days to breathe. Then they have the option of taking at least one of those days without the kids to breathe.”
Elkiner adds that there are of course employees who want to work, as well as those who are in roles who cannot take a three-day ‘weekend’: “In every company, there are people who choose to work. And you also need to be aware that only some staff members can facilitate a four-day workweek in their role. For example those who are in operations roles like warehouse management for example.
‘Ultimately, it’s about a relationship of trust between the boss and the employee.”
Elkiner previously worked for Groupon, where he grew the team from 4 to 120 employees in 18 months, so he firmly understands how multinational companies operate.
His own company, sharingbox, spans several countries and boasts a workforce of 200 employees. Elkiner understands the importance of hard work – he started his company with just under $20,000USD.
He demonstrated superior knowledge in the field by creating the first cloud-based software, which revolutionized the market for his and other American companies in the field.
Elkiner was also the first in the industry to execute 100 photo booths in multiple stores.
He has worked with U.S. fashion brand Marc Jacobs and Harry Winston, the American luxury jeweler.
And Elkiner has also been awarded the Les TOF de la COM’ Young Hopeful’ Award for his exemplary performance as an entrepreneur and his ability to create a groundbreaking, innovative, profitable company.
His sharingbox photo booth installations have assisted other companies in boosting their revenue and reach in the U.S., including Sephora, Maybelline, and Sony.
And this provides additional profits to the U.S. and a unique and enjoyable user experience.
As for sharingbox, the company is now in 10 different companies and has achieved revenues of over USD 20,000,000 in six years.
Elkiner says: “I have always had a strong work ethic. I was very involved with the European operations of sharingbox and the U.S. previously, and I would be sending emails at 2 pm my time and expect a response from them at 8 pm their time.
Having a family and the pandemic changed that. Now I respect everybody’s time. And I realized it didn’t make a difference to the company’s performance. I am much more focused on the work-life balance than before.”
His change in approach didn’t have a detrimental effect on the company – he and his business partner, Sidney Valenta, sold it during the pandemic.
Elkiner adds: “Obviously, every business can’t transition 100% to the four-day work week because the infrastructure will not always allow it. However, there is no doubt the approach to 40-hour work is changing across the world.
“If I can move to a point where it is something we can implement, I would love to do so. The concept can only build bridges between employees and relationships.”
Sidney Valenta, the co-founder of sharingbox, says they have always put employees first: “We celebrate every holiday we can at sharingbox in the US. It is very important that our team is well-rested and feels respected. That their personal time is sacred to them. Marc places an emphasis on that. It is what makes him so great at what he does.”