Could a four-day week help improve UK productivity?

Over half (61 percent) of office workers believe they’d improve their performance levels if they worked a four-day week; and 40 percent believe they would be more productive working remotely. This is according to new research which claims that UK productivity has fallen dramatically, with one in three (31 percent) office workers admitting they are unproductive for a huge two hours every day. The report, commissioned by office products firm Fellowes, argues that despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, the UK sits 15th in the productivity table, lagging behind the likes of Sweden (31 hours p/w), Denmark (27.2 hours p/w) and Norway (27.3 p/w) – who all work, on average, less hours per week than Brits (32 hours p/w). As a third of workers are essentially working a six-hour day, many believe it’s time to look towards Scandinavian countries like Sweden – who recently trialled a 6-hour working day – where employees have more flexibility to choose when and where they work. This is opinion is shared by productivity expert Grace Marshall – author of How to be Really Productive, from Think Productive, who said: “We’ve found that a four-day work week increases momentum and motivation in the office, as well as giving employees more time to enjoy life outside of the workplace. It is our ability to think well that increases the quality and value of our work, not how many hours we show up at the office. In fact, working longer hours can diminish our productivity as well as our wellbeing.”

Marshall identified three tips to boost productivity in the office:

  1. Meeting Free Monday If you have back to back meetings all day every day, when are you actually going to do the work that comes out of these meetings or the preparation that goes into them for that matter! Try having a set day in the week when no-one can book meetings into your diary and hold those boundaries firm.
  2. Champagne Moments – We all know that morale helps to boost productivity and remind you what you are working towards. Whether it’s an email folder or board in the office keep a copy of nice things people have said, a client testimonial, a thank you, success stories of what people have gone on to do next as a result of something you have done.
  3. Prep like a Chef – Give yourself ten minutes at the beginning of the day to make sure you have everything you need to complete your jobs, just like a chef would line up their ingredients. Make sure you are comfortable at your desk and all your equipment is working properly. This helps to stop any unnecessary trips to the printer or stationary cupboard and cuts down on more distractions

The report also found that office equipment was hampering worker output as a quarter claimed to have missed a deadline because they couldn’t get their hands on the right equipment in time and 1 in 5 offices complained they don’t have access to the equipment they need at least once a week.

Fellowes UK Sales and Marketing Director Darryl Brunt added: “It’s clear that our workplace has a huge effect on our productivity and our report shows a real need for businesses to take heed. Making small changes to employee’s work station comfort can reap rewards for their wellbeing and their working life. Employees who feel more productive working from home shouldn’t be forgotten either, everyone should be given access to the right products to ensure they can work well.”