The future of what is considered the ‘perfect’ workday is ever-evolving. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, because there is no one-size-fits-all employee – everyone has unique needs and preferences. It’s essential, however, to consider the different versions of a perfect workday, to ensure employees are productive and feel supported. And given the ongoing lockdown, the perfect workday may look a little different in the future.
1. The perfect workday may not take place in the office
In a 2019 study of 900 US knowledge workers, 95% said they wanted to work remotely. Similarly, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many UK employees will have grown accustomed to working remotely, preferring their home environment to their workplace. It’s therefore more than likely that the perfect workday includes the opportunity to work from home.
That said, some staff will enjoy the physical stimulation of the workplace and prefer to surround themselves with people. The perfect workday, therefore, begins with the freedom to choose where you work.
2. Look at the perfect working week
If you rigidly ask your employees to work 9 to 5, five days a week, chances are your employees aren’t working as productively as they could, and your HR department is overrun with requests for holidays and sick-pay. In a global study, 34% of respondents said they would prefer a four day working week, whilst 28% claimed they were content with the status quo. Different employees have different working preferences, so flexibility is key.
Employees feel motivated at different times too, so it’s essential you offer them the opportunity to work flexible hours. For example, you could ask staff to work 8 to 4 four days a week, and then give them the freedom to make up their remaining hours as they wish. This will help improve staff wellbeing too, as they will feel as though they have greater control of the balance between their work and home life.
3. Make meetings productive to boost collaboration
Often, meetings are a time-consuming obstacle in many employees’ days. However, as Steven G. Rogelberg reveals in his popular book, The Surprising Science of Meetings, a day with no meetings at all was not considered desirable by employees. It seems that, whilst unproductive meetings are (unsurprisingly) deemed a waste of time, communication within a team is an essential part of the day.
No employee wants to feel isolated or out-of-the-loop, especially if they are working remotely. Keep meetings short and productive to ensure every employee is on the same page about daily tasks and long term projects.
4. Encourage ‘proper’ lunch breaks
Many employees choose to work through their lunch break or take a quick breather at their desk, believing this is more productive than leaving their work for an hour or so. In reality, if an employee does not utilise their lunch break they are much more likely to experience burnout and a decline in their mental health and wellbeing.
The ideal workday should include a ‘proper’ lunch break, taken outside of the office space and for the full allotted time. For example, team members should have enough time to eat, grab a coffee with their coworker, and run a quick errand during lunch. Employers must encourage their staff to make the most of their break, and remind them that they shouldn’t be working.
5. Support the perfect workday with digital tools
Businesses must utilise new technology that makes their employees’ lives easier. For example, if a team member has to answer the same query over and over, this takes time away from more creative and thought-provoking tasks. Eventually, this can make staff feel under-utilised and unsatisfied. New systems can take away some of the daily grind, with the digital workplace already making waves in automating and expediting processes.