Future of Work: Will it Lead to a Four-Day Week?

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Samir Bagri
06/24/2020

FOW is blurring boundaries across work, home, learning, and community. Will it lead to the four-day work week?

Over the last several years, technology has been blurring boundaries across work, home, learning, and community. The pandemic has increased the pace of blurring these boundaries, resulting in what is becoming the new normal. As Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) said during the Microsoft earnings call in late April 2020:

"We've seen two years' worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything."


What does this mean for the Future of Work? Mainly, that it has become difficult to think of work in a silo. Now, more than ever, we are thinking of work in conjunction with the other areas of our lives. The future model of work may be best developed by looking at our lives holistically – optimizing across not only what we do at work but also how we live at home, learn new skills and engage within our community.

In the Shared Services environment, just about all the components of work can be done from remote, which leads to a higher degree of efficiency at work and provides us with more flexibility in other parts of our lives. However, it can also come with the burden of fatigue, due to the blurring of boundaries.

Blurring of Boundaries

Have we seen this blurring of boundaries previously? Yes, when Henry Ford created the assembly line. Not only did the assembly line allow for mass production at lower cost, but it also created efficiencies such that employees could produce more in much less time. However, these efficiencies came with a caveat and that is: assembly lines work best when running continuously – blurring boundaries, similar to the 24x7 approach of 'remote everything' today. When running assembly lines around the clock, we minimize lost production time in setup and tear down. Additionally, it is easy to see output coming off the end of the assembly line resulting in the tracking of outcome-based metrics as opposed to hours put in.

What did Ford Motor Company do with these newly found efficiencies of the assembly line? It became the first major organization in the world to go to a five-day work week (from a six-day work week). It was a win-win for employer and employee – resulting in work efficiency along with optimization of home, learning, and community.

Shared Services has achieved efficiencies by following the principles initially developed on the assembly line.

Now that we are in the era of 'remote everything' maybe we can create a win-win situation again and go to another new normal – the four-day work week.

What do you think? I look forward to your perspective and comments.

[This is the first in a series of Future of Work articles by Samir Bagri.]


Note: Samir Bagri will be speaking about Future of Work at SSON's Remote Shared Services Digital Summit. Click below to register for free, and join him.

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