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Beyond some serious rebranding efforts on behalf of America’s beloved TGI Friday’s restaurants and Katy Perry — who may have danced on one too many tabletops to even remember the day of the week — there exists organizations who don’t just like the idea of getting ‘that Friday feeling’ on a Thursday; they love it.

And while some may try to hold on to the TGIF motto, others are welcoming the TGIT lifestyle with open arms.

Introducing the four-day workweek.

Founder and CEO of Watch Gang Matthew Gallagher is one leader who decided to take the plunge after learning that 85 per cent of people globally were not engaged at work

“I don’t want my employees to hate their jobs, and I don’t want them to work longer hours than the business needs from them”, he told NBC news.

After witnessing Iceland’s overwhelmingly successful trial, Gallagher will be piloting the four-day workweek in an attempt to boost employee satisfaction and increase output.

The avant-garde concept has been receiving an increasing amount of attention. It is a model being tested worldwide whereby organizations reduce the workweek by one day in hopes of boosting employee productivity and well-being.

While solely a futuristic theory to some, it has proven to be a wild success for companies like Microsoft Japan.

As part of a summer project examining work-life balance which is aimed to boost creativity and productivity, the tech giant’s “Work-Life Choice Challenge” offered full-time employees flexible working hours for the same pay. The result the company reported was a productivity boost of 40 per cent.

These findings weren’t outliers by any means. In fact, Perpetual Guardian — a trust management company in New Zealand — made the four-day workweek policy permanent after employees experienced a 25 per cent increase in productivity and a 45 per cent rise in work-life balance.

While the traditional Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five grind was holding on tight, COVID-19 had other plans.

Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian’s founder and a key figure in pioneering the four-day workweek, told TRT World that the pandemic has encouraged workplaces to revisit their policies.

Loreto Grimaldi, a law professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business agrees: “If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we do not have to be in the office to be productive,” adding that “We are in a transition phase of workplace culture.”

He says it’s the younger generations who are shaping the new corporate landscape. 

Recent research conducted by Dynamic Signal reveals that Gen Z, the group graduating into the post-pandemic workplace, cares most about work-life balance and personal well-being.

The same is true among millennials. Making up approximately 50 per cent of the workforce, millennials demand more flexibility than previous generations and prioritize a healthy work-life balance, above all.

Grimaldi, the technology-embracing Gen X, believes that upcoming generations will approach the digital world with a new perspective —  one that isn’t burdened by expectations around the need for a traditional workweek that defined so many generations in the past.

So, does this automatically mean that Thursdays should become the new Fridays? 

While the majority of research is proving that a shortened week would be beneficial in more ways than one (with productivity, well-being and even environmental benefits at its forefront), there have been teething problems surrounding changing up routines––not to mention, the arrangement is geared towards certain industries more than others.

Organizational behaviour professor at Queen’s University Dr. Matthias Spitzmuller says that, while he thinks the model makes sense in industries where there are few interdependencies across employees, he finds it hard to imagine it in sectors that are cognitively very complex. He says it’s important to consider which jobs are amenable to the four-day workweek. 

He even struggles to imagine there being enough time in four days to accomplish the different activities that are important to him. 

Though it may be hard to picture, he believes it is a huge opportunity to recalibrate priorities and responsibilities in our work-life. “As I’m listening to myself, it just requires a change in mindset.”

Although the model is not being explicitly used everywhere, a mindset shift around what counts as ‘work’ and work-life balance has come into focus. With more people working remotely than ever before, innovative work practices are becoming more feasible.

A new window of flexibility is upon us; it is time to rethink how we conceptualize our workweek… but don’t worry about it on a Friday. 

Just trying to get something put up on the kitchen fridge. Combining my international business degree with my passion for journalism- stay tuned.
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