“We need to remember that we borrow our people from their lives… it’s a gift from them to share time with you and to do a good job while they’re there.” – Charlotte Lockhart
- The importance of caring in the workplace
- 4 Day Work Week
The following article is based on our interview with Charlotte Lockhart, Co-Founder and MD of 4 Day Week Global, advocating for a productivity-focused, reduced-hour workplace, on The Caring CEO podcast.
Charlotte is also a Board member of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre and co-founder of the World Wellbeing Movement. Her company has helped oversee 4 Day Week trials in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
We learnt so much from Graeme Cowan’s interview with Charlotte for The Caring CEO podcast episode #52.
Caring in the workplace
In the workplace, it is crucial for leaders to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that employees willingly lend their time, energy, and expertise to the organisation. This understanding entails recognising that work is not merely a separate entity from individuals’ lives, but rather an intrinsic component intertwined with their personal experiences. For Charlotte, it’s a profound realisation that the commitment and dedication employees exhibit while on the job is not just a transactional exchange, but rather a heartfelt contribution and a precious gift they bestow upon their work environment and the people they collaborate with.
Charlotte believes that by embracing this perspective, leaders can foster a culture of care and empathy within the organisation. They can create an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and understood. This recognition of the interconnectedness between work and personal life allows leaders to cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose among their team members. It encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work, enabling them to thrive and perform at their best.
Moreover, when leaders acknowledge the significance of the time and effort employees invest in their work, it fosters a sense of reciprocity and mutual respect. It reinforces the notion that the organisation is not just a place where tasks are completed, but a space where individuals can grow, learn, and contribute meaningfully. This understanding paves the way for leaders to create opportunities for professional development, work-life balance, and overall wellbeing, ensuring that employees feel supported and fulfilled in both their personal and professional lives.
In essence, caring in the workplace goes beyond mere acknowledgment; it involves a deep appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between work and life. It’s about recognising the invaluable contribution employees make by sharing their time, skills, and dedication. By embracing this understanding, leaders can foster a culture of care, empathy, and mutual respect, ultimately creating a thriving and harmonious work environment for all.
4 Day Work Week
In Charlotte’s company, Perpetual Guardian, she and her partner, Andrew Barnes, implemented a four-day workweek. This decision was inspired by an Economist article that highlighted the lack of productivity in the workplace, particularly in the UK, where it was reported to be less than three hours per day. Andrew’s intention was not solely focused on employee wellbeing or being a caring employer; rather, he wanted to identify the factors that hinder productivity. He wondered if giving people more time would allow them to fulfill personal obligations and ultimately enhance their productivity during work hours.
As they began implementing the four-day workweek, they soon realised that it had a significant positive impact on employee wellbeing. One of the first emails Andrew received was from a single mother who expressed gratitude for the extra day off. It allowed her to efficiently manage personal tasks while her children were at school, resulting in a more relaxed and enjoyable weekend with her family. This feedback deeply moved Andrew and highlighted the broader implications of our initiative beyond work productivity.
This initial response garnered media attention and piqued the interest of numerous businesses, academics, and even some government officials. In response, they established Four Day Week Global as a not-for-profit organisation to facilitate conversations and advocate for a shift in the way we approach work. However, their plans took an unexpected turn with the onset of the pandemic. They collaborated with a team at Kickstarter to create an awareness campaign promoting reduced work time and the concept of a four-day workweek. While they were excited about the growing interest, they also recognised the need to provide support and guidance to organisations seeking to implement such changes.
Thus, Four Day Week Global now not only advocates for reduced work time but also offers training programs to companies worldwide, aiming to assist organisations in creating a productivity-focused work environment with reduced hours. Charlotte understands the importance of not only generating the desire for change but also providing the necessary resources and processes to support companies to implement a successful transition.
Charlotte’s company has helped oversee 4 Day Week trials in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, implementing their 100:80:100 Model grounded by their research, which practices 100% pay, 80% time, and maintaining 100% output, with results showing that 78% of participant employees are happier and less stressed, and 97% wanted the pilot to continue. Now, 250+ global companies with 100,000+ employees overall have joined trials.
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