First trialled by a New Zealand company in 2018, the four-day week is taking its first steps in France under companies like Love Radius or Yprema. According to a study conducted by payroll publisher ADP last May, 60% of French people are in favor of working one fewer day, hoping to find a better balance between work and personal life. At the same time, remote work is gaining ground, especially in the current social and environmental context.
While it does represent a tangible solution to deal with exceptional situations and a clear way to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, doubt remains about its lasting benefits in terms of well-being at work.
Among the solutions that managers call for to reconcile private and professional life, with the exception of remote work: flexibility of working hours, ease of transition from 80% working time, and additional vacation days. When reading these numbers and the comments that appear here and there about remote work, I ask myself a question: Will by reducing the time we spend in the workplace improve the quality of life at work? Isn’t this contradictory?
Will working at home or working less be a panacea for feeling good at your company? As if luxury were a completely individual thing. As if the company did not have collective and social energy and intelligence at its core. A place for meetings, exchanges, creativity and doing things together that gives meaning to the concept of work and, by doing so, can be a source of fulfillment.
Why then would you want at all costs to leave the company in order to feel better at work? Conversely, the battle for quality of life at work must be won inside the company, not outside. With one slogan: Let’s bring back the magic of the company and reaffirm its social role!
New work organizations… towards the end of team spirit?
While the mindstart“, with the support of French technology teachers, Rhymes is characterized by flexibility and a work culture based on “Where I want, when I want“, with the key to new organizational approaches that would be in tune with the times, startups are not escaping burnout, boredom, and, most recently, standstill.
Faced with this observation, it is difficult not to wonder about the impact of these societal changes on the organization of work, mainly related to new technologies.
No, remote work, flexible hours, reduced working hours, and these new models that are seen as tomorrow’s models are not synonymous with a better work-life balance and happiness at work. It may help in emptying the company of its meaning and the values that characterize it, taking into account the team spirit…
Because that is also what a company is: a wealth-creating group that must succeed in achieving its goals, and where rallying its teams to achieve success together can give meaning, energy, satisfaction and pride. .
Let’s go back, for example, to the idea of creating a 4-day week. Doesn’t this conflict with the demands of customers who increasingly want service 7 days a week, as evidenced by stores opening on Sunday or just-in-time delivery? Setting up a 4-day week is very complex, and will require rotating teams that, in the end, will not have much opportunity to work together. Unless productivity at all costs is questioned and performance is competed for, it will only be a source of additional stress for employees.
The issue of team cohesion also arises in remote work. How can you expect your employees to share company values, when everyone is spending less and less time together? How can we harness the power of the group when everyone thinks it’s better to work at home, alone in front of their computers?
Solutions and sources of inequality
What is shocking is that by first seeking to satisfy the individual by responding to his or her limitations or aspirations, we create or reinforce inequality. In the case of the four-day week, inequality between large companies and SMEs is likely to increase: the former will have the resources to implement it while small companies will only be able to struggle, in the face of the resulting difficulties.
Even worse is remote work, which is presented as the solution to all ills – overachievement and pollution at the forefront – and which creates inequality at several levels: between companies in the secondary sector and the service sector, and between professions. To work remotely, you still need to not be stuck behind a machine and be able to move your fabrication shop into your living room. What to do with differences in treatment between companies and between employees? Among the employees who are able to work remotely, how can we evaluate each person’s ability to self-motivate? Is everyone designed to work remotely? Given these differences, it is difficult to deny that remote work finds its meaning in evaluating individual situations, which is often at the expense of the group.
Proof, if any was needed, that the company should remain a meeting place, many freelancers are returning to paid work due to lack of social connections, and many co-working spaces are being developed to allow their users to escape into professional unity. A source of suffering.
Let’s move away from “all productivity”, we are not machines!
In addition to the discussion time needed for company development and employee well-being, rest and relaxation periods are also an integral part of the quality of life at work. What is this ? A 100% human idea that cannot be claimed by machines or robots. An idea in which breaks, lunches with colleagues, group activities, creative meetings and cross-functional tasks without measuring indicators play an essential role.
The era of productive everything, the race towards goals, and the pressure associated with reducing working hours, contradict all of this. Time is essential for fulfillment: time to think about it together – how we can collectively improve the quality of life at work – and time to devote time to fueling the company’s mission, feeling useful and smart, and recovering in terms of focus and awareness…
In short: bring back the magic of the company
To improve the quality of life at work, you simply must bring back the magic of the company. Solutions can be found that make employees want to spend time there again.
For example, by recreating connections and spaces in the service of the community and nourishing teams intellectually and socially allowing them to move forward day after day. This includes in particular projects on the margins of productivity (review projects, creative meetings, seminars, etc.). And also through the solutions provided to employees so that the quality of their leisure time is maximized.
Because this is also what we must not forget: every company must play a role in the well-being of its employees and their loved ones. By providing them with social and cultural benefits that allow them easy access to leisure activities, vacations, cultural outings, academic support, etc., it promotes better life balance. This has an impact on the quality of life at work. But not against the company…
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