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The New 9 to 5: Mixing Up Work Schedules for the 21st Century

While alternatives to the old school presentee-ism of the 9-5 office culture have been making news lately, for many organisations these notions were outlandish until recently. Of course, for creatives or designers, some of these approaches to work have been the norm for a long time. So, when the world suddenly turned upside down, many companies were forced to make these unique work culture alternatives their new reality.

In this article, we invite you to take a short stroll with us through some of the different ways businesses and individuals are shaking off the shackles of the workplace status quo by integrating these alternative cultural formats.

Working from Home/ Remote Work

Before Covid barrelled through the world, most companies sat somewhere between somewhat reluctant to vehemently opposed to the concept of their staff working in a remote setting. Not that we need to remind you, but following the strict lockdowns induced by the pandemic, our collective and essential transition into working from home— while at first a slight culture shock—turned out to be hugely successful.

The benefits were across the board, from office communications becoming more efficient, meetings more effective and using your time more productively. Following this, several organisations—including, most prominently, tech giant Google— have extended their employee’s right to work from home on into this year. This not only allows teams the ability to better plan for the future, but also to continue to produce great work from the comfort of their own homes.

The 4 Day Work Week

The 4 day work week offers something many of us dream of, 4 days of work and a 3 day weekend. Sounds dreamy right? The concept was originally road-tested by a New Zealand company called Perpetual Guardian in 2018. The company reported an increase both in profitability and overall revenue, so have continued the initiative on as part of the regular workings of the business. Another organisation that saw incredible results was Microsoft Japan. After their staff cut back to 4 days without losing their full-time salary, the proof was in the pudding when the company reported a massive productivity boost of 40 percent.

Overall, while the applicability may differ by industry and organisation, those companies taking on this new reduced working week now house staff who are reportedly happier, more creative and approaching their workloads with greater gusto, all of which are yielding awesome results. Who knew having more free time would be so good for business?

The Early Start

Are you an early riser? This one is for you. The Early Start initiative is certainly made for the early birds among us, rather than the night owls. However, starting your work day early—say at 7am for a cheeky 3pm finish—can offer you the chance to take advantage of the most productive and lucid hours of your waking day. Imagine—two hours of uninterrupted productivity before the day kicks off “for real”.

Another sneaky advantage may be, if you’re into it, that research has shown that managers have a little bit of a bias for those early risers. They see them as more productive and to be more conscientious team players. And last but not least, either side of the coin, you miss the rush hour commute. Which sounds like a win to us!

The 9 Day Fortnight

The 9 day fortnight is an initiative some organisations are taking with their full-time staff, which offers the opportunity to take one day off every fortnight while maintaining full-time hours and responsibilities otherwise.

One design studio putting this approach into action is Accept and Proceed, a London-based design studio shaking things up. Their team takes every other Friday off to delve into new worlds and bring back fresh, unexpected ideas and visions. In this way, the company is able to support the creative energy of their team and offer their clients more radical creative solutions. So maybe it’s time you ask yourself, is this what I need to bring the spice back into my work?

The Five Hour Work Day

What if we told you you could work five hours a day and still get the same work done? Sounds impossible? In reality, this magic equation comes down to being a guru of time management. Digital marketer Felicia C. Sullivan offers up her experience with this practice to show how she tuned up her usual eight hour work grind into an efficient daily five hour boom of productivity. Firstly, she suggests you track the way you work currently, looking for the attention sinkholes and ways you waste time. Once you’ve got a sense of when and how you work best, it’s time to create a weekly time block, where you break down your tasks into clear time blocks.

Now you have your beginning, you need some secret weapons. From using your Sundays as the time you gather inspiration and mood boards, all the way to employing the Hemingway Method—which means leaving your work in the middle when it’s right in the flow. There are many tricks to using your time more wisely, so you can carve back some of that thing we are all so poor of: time. Lastly, a non-negotiable and something we heartily agree with for this method is Sullivan’s proposed “thinking and planning walks”. Not only a way to get our mind and body up and active in the early morning, you are also allowing yourself precious active downtime to reflect, get stoked and find inspiration before jumping right into making the magic happen.

These are obviously just a few of the ways you could shake things up at work. There’s a little something for everyone, with every option offering a unique change that could offer the magic you need right now. If you’re ready to shift gears and shake off the work cobwebs, there’s no better time to bring long lasting and unprecedented growth and creativity to your work game with one of these unique approaches to the traditional work setting.

This article was originally published in the Shillington Post 09—The Wellbeing Issue

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