How does a three day weekend sound? Would you take Friday or Monday off? Or how about a four day weekend? Richard Branson thinks a three day working week is a good idea – read on to find out why…
Many of us benefit from flexible working arrangements, which helps us achieve a better work/life balance. Richard Branson’s proposals push this a step further though, as he claims that new technology should enable us to work fewer hours and be equally, if not more, effective.
He puts this into practice with the Virgin staff he employs, where they are offered unlimited leave and a work from hone option. His argument is simple: “it’s easier to attract top talent when you are open and flexible. It’s not effective or productive to force them to behave in a conventional way”, he argued in a blog.
It is advances in technology which is driving this transition. Innovation should make it possible to do more work in less time, freeing up employees to have more personal time. Branson has always advocated for more fun, but increased time off would also enable families to spend more time together. It may also take pressure off parents who often have to choose between pursuing their career or devoting more time to their family – to the cost of their work future.
He argues that flexible working has to be built into people’s jobs, rather than bolted on – just giving someone a laptop so they can work from home won’t achieve the goals for employee and employer.
What is not disputed is that happy workers make better workers, with a high degree of job satisfaction being reflected in higher productivity. There is also the option for reduced costs, for example where staff work from home instead of in an office.
There is no doubt that the pattern of working will change in the future as increased automation alters traditional work roles. But is a three day working week a step too far, too fast? It clearly won’t work in some sectors, but might just be a way forward in some. After all, Fridays and Mondays off does sound very tempting…