Episode 2: “The Future of Work”

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Episode 2: “The Future of Work”
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    Comms In A Nutshell is your go to place to listen to discussions with industry experts, global brands and our hosts Vic McEwan & Scott Ritchie about the most pressing topics surrounding the world of work. 

    In case you missed episode 1 hosts Vic & Scott look at how our world of work is changing, what the new normal looks like and the pros and cons of remote work and how you can use an intranet to combat these. Catch up on our first episode, here

    Comms In A Nutshell #2 

    "Future of Work P1 - Oak Trial a 4 Day Week and 5 Hour Day"

    Have you been reading a lot about the four day week? Scotland are set to trial a four day week, after success in Iceland and New Zealand. Many other businesses have been following suit and it has since opened up discussions into the future of work and what our working week looks like. It’s not just the four day week which has been a proven success. In America companies such as Tower Paddle Boards and Blue Street Capital have trialled a 5 hour workday. But why are these movements gaining momentum?

    Having more free time to ourselves is said to have huge benefits on work life balance, productivity and employees mental health. 

    For this podcast episode we decided to run an experiment within Oak - we gave our New Business & Marketing teams the chance to trial a four day workweek and one week of five hour days to see what our employees thought about these work patterns and if they could be the answer to the future of work.

    Listen to our findings in part 1, here:

    "Future of Work P2 - Interview with Cara De Lange"

    In part two we spoke to Cara De Lange, Founder & CEO of Softer Success,  a wellbeing consultancy who operate on a four day workweek policy. Cara De Lange is a wellbeing expert, author and Founder/ CEO of Softer Success. We spoke to her about why and how the four day workweek works for Softer Success and Cara’s top tips for relieving burnout and managing your mental health in the workplace. 

    Listen to our interview with Cara here: 

    If you want to keep up with the latest podcast episodes why not follow Comms In A Nutshell on your favourite podcast player so you can listen to episodes as soon as they’re released.

    Episode Transcript 1

    Speaker 1 (00:10):

    Welcome to Comms In A Nutshell, your go-to place to listen to discussions with industry experts and global brands about the world's work, internal comms technology and how you can get the best of your workforce. At the end of each episode, we wrap up all the tips and findings in a nutshell, so that you can start implementing them right away. Enjoy this episode.

    Welcome come to Comms In A Nutshell. In this episode, we're going to be looking at the future of work and what that potentially looks like for businesses. So there's a lot of change happening now for certain businesses with many testing and trialing four day work weeks. And this is going to have a huge impact on the lives of many workers. So all of this interest and momentum around the four day week has spurred us at Oak to think about what the future of work looks like, and options for potential work structures. So two concepts that have been practiced, tried and tested and have a range of benefits for businesses are the four day workweek and the five hour day. And that's what we're going to be exploring in this episode. So, Scott, can you give us a bit of a breakdown of why the four day work workweek is becoming so popular and just kind of an intro about it? Really?

    Speaker 2 (01:23):

    So I guess in its truest form, the four day work week is exactly what it says on the tin, it’s you do four days of work and then you kind of have three days off. So the most important thing is that your pay stays the same. Now some companies do it slightly differently. You know, it's not kind of nine to five Monday to Thursday, which, which some are adapting, some are doing kind of nine till half six, or kind of taking a longer Workday approach across those four days. So while your hours are maybe slightly reduced, they're not kind of, you know, exactly a four day working week because it's not nine to five Monday to Thursday. So that seems to be a few ways of doing it. Um, but the most consistent thing is that your pay doesn't reduce and you're still kind of, you know, on the same salary.

    Speaker 1 (02:09):

    You’ve essentially got more time as well with that extra day it’s a bit more of a balance having a three day weekend.

    Speaker 2 (02:17):

    Absolutely. I'm sure we can all benefit from having an extra day doing nice things with the families and friends and whatnot. Um, but yeah, we've seen a lot of countries trialing this kind of new work environment. Uh, and I think again, COVID seems to have acted as a bit of a catalyst for kind of how people want to approach their work environments moving forward. It's, it's a bit sporadic, uh, with kind of, you know, which industries are doing it. There's kind of a good spread across us, kind of where it's been trialed out and who's doing what, obviously you might face a few more issues with kind of retail, um, and more customer facing. So New Zealand seemed to be kind of, you know, the real kind of, forward-thinking trialists this for this in 2018, uh, with company called perpetual guardian started. But since then, while they kind of introduced the idea, it seems to have taken a bit more of a back burner for them. Um, Spain trialing it, you know, they've got kind of government buy in, um, and they want to make sure that, you know, they can kind of help fund businesses. So they don't kind of, you know, lose pay for people. Um, Scotland, are also trialing a four day working week now as well. Um, so we're kind of seeing a lot of uptake, but I think where we've seen the most uptake is an Iceland, which now has about 86% of its, of its employees adopted some kind of shorter working week.

    Speaker 1 (03:40):

    That's like a huge percentage.

    Speaker 2 (03:42):

    Yeah. And it was kind of a little trial to begin with, but it was a lot that was public kind of businesses. It was police forces, it was councils. They looked at this. Um, and while they actually did it, as it wasn't a four day, week, Monday to Thursday it was kind of a smaller loss of hours. For Iceland, the project and that trial was about, understanding you know, what impact would fewer hours have rather than just kind of, you know, moving into a four day week where we're just kind of all, you know, coined the term and wrap that up for them as well. So companies are seeing a lot of benefits in the four day work week, you know, both the employees and the employer. Um, one of the biggest ones is, is productivity. And that's that even over the four days it'll maintain, um, the same as a five day work week or it'll actually increase. I think Microsoft’s Japan offices trialed the four day work week and they saw a huge 40% increase in productivity is, is, is huge. And, you know, I think that's why it's catching on for so many people is because they're seeing kind of, you know, it's a better work-life balance, but also as an employer, you're, you're getting more from your employees

    Speaker 1 (04:55):

    Yeah it’s a win win for both sides basically.

    Speaker 2 (04:57):

    Yeah. And then outside of, of the productivity being the main one, there’s falls in the absenteeism, if people have more time for themselves, there's less burnout. People are happy to be in the office. And then the workplace a bit more, um, than the employee wellbeing, because you have that effectively three-day weekend, you can spend more time with your family, friends do hobbies or just, you know, anything else you need to get done. When I was reading up on this I think somebody from Spain when they tried, it said it was really nice that they could just go and do their shopping on a Friday when it was quiet rather than a Saturday. And it is the little things that kind of, you know, help contribute to, you know, employee wellbeing and they have that.

    Speaker 1 (05:40):

    Life admin. Yeah. It just is so much better when you've got spare time. It's like, sometimes if you've got like Friday, if you're just like, oh, I've got so much time to actually do things I need to do. And then I can probably relax at the weekend and

    Speaker 2 (05:54):

    Yeah. And your weekend is like the actual weekend, cause yeah, you've done life admin. That's good.

    Speaker 2 (06:02):

    And then the other one is, you know, there's better recruitment and retention. Um, we kind of are seeing, especially younger workforces with being used to how work is the new norm from COVID with hybrid working flexible hours or kind of stuff. People want to go out the way and look for that. So, you know, having the four-day work week just adds to that, which means you can kind of, you know, adopting it is going to give you about a work-life balance for your employees. You can attract that talent, um, is it is a win as you as an employer.

    Speaker 1 (06:38):

    I think it's one of them things where it's as well, the more people that do it, the harder it's going to be for companies that don't do it to retain employees because it's, it's strength in numbers, isn't it. Once everybody's doing it, people are gonna notice. And they're gonna say, well, I don't want to work for a company if I can work somewhere where I'm going to have a better life balance, I'm going to be more productive, et cetera. So,

    Speaker 2 (07:04):

    Yeah. Yeah. And you know, like we talked about last time, you know, there's this history of where the working weeks come from and where it's going to, and all this, you know, these different ways of working, which all right for some aren’t right for others, it just feeds into that. And it just gives employees more choice really, but that's not the only one is it the five hour working day,

    Speaker 1 (07:28):

    Five hour work. So obviously the four-day week, it's a lot more popular. I think it's easier for a lot more companies to try it. And I think you hear a lot more about it than the five hour Workday, but the five-hour Workday, there is a lot in the news about it, essentially. Five-hour Workday, what it is on the tin. Working for five hours a day, five days a week. So five solid hours of work without any distractions is basically what you're given to complete all your tasks. So it's 25 hours a week, again with no loss of pay. So it's a bit difficult because obviously you squidging a lot into that time, but it has been successful. So the concept, like I said, it came from Stephen Aarstol and he's the founder of Tower Paddle Boards and he's author of a best-selling book, The five-hour Workday, live differently, unlock productivity and find happiness. So yeah, his company was one of the fastest growing in America and they trialed a five-hour Workday within his company. So everybody was working eight to one and it changed everything. So, um, they basically

    Speaker 1 (08:41):

    Simple as that it changed everything, but no, they did find that from going to this five-hour Workday, there was a productivity boost and it allowed the company to up their base salary from 36,000 to $50,000. Yeah. So they basically found that like the productivity output, everything that they were doing in this five hours working without distractions, it was working. So the goal essentially it was to maximize productivity alongside employee satisfaction. So it was kind of like that people over profit mentality, where again, like you said, in the previous podcast where we spoke about Henry Ford and John Maynard Keynes, it's that kind of like shift after a certain amount of time to this kind of we've evolved as humans, time is evolving, technology's evolving. We don't need to do the work in eight hours. Like we can do it in a shorter time. So there's a quote from his book.

    Speaker 1 (09:44):

    And it says just because you're at your desk for eight hours, it doesn't mean you're be productive. Even the best employees probably only accomplish two to three hours of actual work. The five hour day is about managing human energy more efficiently by working in bursts over a shorter period. So he claimed that having less time creates periods of heightened productivity and with the five hour Workday, you're kind of forced into that. I need to manage my time really effectively. I need to actually plan what I'm doing. Um, however, when you do read articles, it's noted that they did reform policy. And they only do that during summer hours now. Yeah. So that's a bit of a catch. They did it for two years. And then after two years they did it to only summer hours, but then I've been like researching other companies that have done it and blue street capital it's these companies both based in California.

    Speaker 1 (10:40):

    So I don't know if people in the UK have tried it, but in America it's people have been experimenting with it. Um, so blue street capital, they're a tech company in California and they develop simple payment solutions for hardware, software services, cloud computing, maintenance, and warranties. So it's a really different business to Tower Paddle Boards who, who make paddleboards and sporting equipment, two completely different businesses. So they basically saw that Tower Paddle Boards had done it and decided that they were going to trial it for 90 days. And if productivity remained the same and customers were satisfied, they would make it permanent. So they basically did make the schedule permanent after three months. And they still operate a five-hour work day to this day. So they do eight to one. And if you go on their website and look at January, 2021, they've got a whole, um, blog post about it and how they still implement it.

    Speaker 1 (11:37):

    So basically after three years, their revenues have gone up every year. So 30% in the first year, 30%, the second, um, the company's grown from nine to 17 employees. So it kind of shows that it does work. It can work certain companies, obviously they're two really different companies. And again, like the four day work week, the benefits are that you're getting your work out of the way in the morning. You're not having lunch. It's five hours of solid work. You're getting into the flow of work. And so you've got more time to spend on hobbies, passions, relationships, and just a bit more focuson your life. It's better for your productivity and happiness. And then spending time on those things will give you more energy physically and emotionally, and then the shorter hours. Yeah. They mean that you're more productive. So it kind of forces you into prioritizing your tasks. So that's a bit of a breakdown of five-hour Workday, but obviously does it work for everyone? We don't know because not many people have tried it, but we decided to try it.

    Speaker 2 (12:49):

    So yeah, we thought, we thought, why not? We'll uh, we talked to our senior leadership team. They're very supportive of the idea. Um, so we did both back-to-back then we did a four day a week and then the five hour Workday. Um, so it was over three weeks. So it was kind of one week on one, one week on a different one. And the three weeks was just so as many people as possible could buy into it and well  based on holiday or commitments or that type of thing. Um, so yeah, we had a lot of the sales, marketing and design team, um, might be succonded for it. Um, and yeah, everyone took part, we've got to fill in a survey at the end. Uh, so we've got some of the results and kind of how we thought it works and what we as a business and individuals really preferred.

    Speaker 1 (13:46):

    Disclaimer, just for everyone listening, this is not company advice. This is, we've seen a lot about it in the media. Obviously it is picking up speed and momentum, and this is just a test to see how everybody individually found it and how it worked for us. See, we've done this experiment within Oak just to gather people's opinions and what they think about the different concepts, but we haven't tried it long enough to be able to comment properly when companies properly trial it, they're trying it for six months, three months, et cetera. We've just done a week for each just to gather people's opinions for the podcast so that we can bring our own ideas into the discussion and, and share our viewpoint on it.

    Speaker 2 (14:35):

    So we had just shy 90% of people, um, prefer the four day work week then 5.3%, which I think that equates to one person, doesn't it.

    Speaker 2 (14:49):

    So 5.3% for the five hour work days, which is a massive change. And then one person didn't prefer either . The four day work week, won out and in our experiment, because it seems a bit more familiar from what people work now. Uh, you know, I think the five hour Workday seemed like it was a big jump. Yeah. Yeah. We both found that I struggled with it. So yeah. Um, from the four-day work week, whenever I filled in my survey, we had, some pros being that some people did think they were more productive across the course of the week. They were still able to have breaks in comparison to some of the five hour Workday, which is probably one of the things I struggle with most just like, if I wanted to go and get a coffee feeling up that, you know, bit under pressure. Then obviously having a long weekend meant that people felt they were a bit more charged coming back the next week.

    Speaker 2 (15:52):

    It was kind of still easier to progress, work and projects because it, it wasn't such a short time scale, um, compared to the five-hour Workday. Cons where some people still didn't feel they had enough time to get things done, which I think we, we kind of expect that that would be the case just because of how your workload as well. I think the other thing as well, because some of our, you know, the sales guys, uh, customer facing as are the design team, they're kind of, you know, ready to respond to customers and they kind of, you know, don't have control when customers have to come back to them. So I felt, they thought that, you know, it was a little bit unnerving for them I think, feeling like they want to kind of put the customer first, but don't know when that's going to be. Some of the comments we had about the longer weekend were fantastic. Um, met friends and enjoyed life was from one person, which is always good. Uh, and they use time for likes to see family, um, feeling much more refreshed after a long weekend when people can return to work. I think there was a few about, uh, life admin, like you mentioned as well, a lot of, um, house viewings and getting jobs done around the house.

    Speaker 1 (17:11):

    I did jobs, I got enough sleep. I went out to food. I met loved ones, definitely the life admin.

     

    Speaker 2 (17:20):

    We also asked people about their routines when they kind of adopted these new working patterns for the week. And was there a big impact? Did they need to do a lot of things to make the week's work for them? For the four day work week people became more organized, uh, some time blocking. And I think there is always going to be kind of a, a bit of not everything's going to fit, especially meetings, um, on like, you know, if they're just in the Friday with whoever, but in the main, I think people kind of adapted well to it. We were able to get a lot of their work done within the timescales and didn't feel like, you know, they were under a lot of kind of pressure to, you know, complete tasks or they weren't going to get things done.

    Speaker 1 (18:01):

    They said it felt like a normal work week, but then as it came to Thursday, people kind of thought, I need to make sure that I've got everything wrapped up and that's when kind of diamonds are made under pressure. You kind of get everything done on the Thursday as you get towards your weekend. You’re like, okay. I've got more stuff to do. This is when the productivity ramps up.

    Speaker 2 (18:25):

    Fantastic. You got down in an analogy. And productivity and the results from four-day work week a lot of the responses we got with that, people kind of felt they achieved everything, but they were productive as they usually would be. Not that they were more, so I guess two ways to look at that, you know, it's kind of like if they achieved everything in the shorter timescale, you know, then technically yes, you were more productive, but were you more productive than what you would normally do in a week? Nobody, nobody really seemed to be. Um, everyone kind of felt that it didn't really change their ways of working.

    Speaker 1 (19:06):

    I think it's almost about not how you look at how much time you have to do work, but sometimes it's about changing the way you work.

    Speaker 2 (19:16):

    Yeah, absolutely. and somebody here they said, you know, normally I take each task as it comes. However, I did time block my tasks to ensure that I complete everything within four days. And that is the thing that I find helps when you've got a lot to do, you know, you just put two hours in for whatever you’re working on. And at the end of it, you know, that kind of that time restraints, you're going to be focused on it and think I've only got so much time left. So yeah, obviously people did kind of, you know, people did get a bit creative and, and change up their usual ways of working to accommodate the experiment. Um, so then we asked, do you think that a four day work week is the answer to increased productivity and relieving burnout? Uh, we got a few yeses. We got a few, I don't think it'll increase productivity, but will help towards burnout. Um, yeah, someone else has put yes, definitely. Two day weekend is starting to feel quite archaic. Uh, it's great to see small change in hopes that a future three-day weekend from the norm and work life is balanced, which I guess that does feel more so when you're only working four days and you've got three off as opposed to, so

    Speaker 1 (20:32):

    As well as there come to be more of a focus on like health, wellness, wellbeing. Yeah. It's natural that people are going to want to have more of a balance between work. I mean, I've heard a lot of people say, well, it's scam that humans have to work five days a week and then you only get two days off and then you get 30 days off a year. It's just like, yeah, just, yeah. It just felt archaic. It does. So.

    Speaker 2 (21:00):

    Yeah. Well, yes. So I mean, overall, the results of the four-day work week were fairly positive

    Speaker 1 (21:08):

    When I was browsing. Was there, um, someone that's had suggested mixing the two of the concepts together?

    Speaker 2 (21:15):

    Yeah, they did. Didn't they? Yeah. A shorter Friday and a normal Monday to Friday. Yeah. I

    Speaker 1 (21:19):

    I don't think I'd mind that I would quite, I’d quite like that

     

    Speaker 2 (21:23):

    That'd be good. That'd be good.

    Speaker 1 (21:25):

    Yeah, because I do, I do like the Friday, Friday, Friday feeling because it's nice. Sometimes it's nice to, well, I mean, I suppose it's it's cause obviously you'd like to have Friday off, but that Friday in the office I do get, when people, people will say they like going into the office on a Friday because it's, it's more relaxed. It's chilled it's everyone. Yeah. Everyone's ready for the weekend. Yeah. But then I suppose that could just be Thursday feeling.

    Speaker 2 (21:56):

    So yeah. We had mixed feedback, but generally positive for the four-day work week and how people found it. Um, not so much for the five-hour work day though.

    Speaker 1 (22:07):

    Yeah. So the five hour work day, it did not prove as popular. It is very different to adjust to with the four day week. You're obviously you're doing your normal working pattern. You're shaving a day off the end, the five hour work day. I think I know I came into it I was like, oh my goodness  I've only got five hours to do everything. How am I going to do it? This is going to be hard. And I know I had that whole element of literally feeling stressed and under pressure the whole day. So

    Speaker 2 (22:38):

    Yeah. I think a lot of your felt like I know I overworked on

    Speaker 1 (22:43):

    Yeah. I, I overworked, I think three days out of the five. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (22:51):

    And then the times I did have often the afternoon, I kind of felt a bit guilty,

    Speaker 1 (22:54):

    Guilty. Yeah. A lot of people did say that they felt very guilty because they knew that other people were still working and they would just, obviously they, they weren't working. They had time off and stuff. So I'll go through, I'll go through some of the stats and the data from the, from the sheet. So the most worked pattern was five hours with no lunch, which is obviously what the companies who have implemented do. But we did offer people the option to have six hours with a one hour lunch break because obviously everybody works differently. Some people, the whole premise of it is that you work for five hours straight with no break because you meant to get into the productivity zone. I think it's quite a big ask to ask people to do that straight off. So we offered people that kind of lunch break  so that they could get back into the rest of the day, which I kind of did, like on the days off I had the lunch and then I went back and I was like, oh, I've only got two hours of solid work to, I'm going to probably get my head down for this and work hard.

    Speaker 1 (23:55):

    So we offered people, those work patterns, but the most worked one was five hours, no lunch. Um, so obviously we had one person that preferred the five hour Workday. So they said that they preferred that because they managed to have more time for themselves without compromising anything else in the day, they had more time to do chores, spend time with family and they focused for longer and took less breaks. But they did know that that week wasn't too heavy with the workload, but that they got the same amount of work done that you would in a normal week. So that's good. They've obviously approached that with the right mindset of, I need to get everything done. They've obviously planned the way that they did that a little bit more and again, with altering their routines. Um, we had comments that people were a lot more strategic with their meetings.

    Speaker 1 (24:46):

    So instead of having an hour long meeting, which kind of dragged on the time was used to actually just cover the things that needed to be covered. People put more organization and planning into the way that they approach their work. Again, people put their tasks into kind of whether they were high priority or not, and they focused on those. So it's a lot more planning required with a five-hour workday. Yeah. Yeah. But then I also think, so say if this was to become permanent, with your meetings, and I know at Oak we're our meetings, it's not just, we need to cover this, this and this. We all like to have a bit of a chat and just generally see how each other are. And I do think, yeah, I do think if you, if you have a five-hour workday, you're kind of like not building relationships with anybody in your team, if literally all you're doing is just going through everything that you need to do for work.

    Speaker 2 (25:43):

    I think it's very hard to, um, preserve a more informal culture like we have at Oak. If we’re doing the five hour Workday as kind of, you know, that is how you work, because it just means that it just doesn't really have time to kind of have that human aspect, um, of work, which is something that we all enjoy with our  jobs. Um, however it, yeah, you know, it might work for some companies who are a bit more kind of, you know, that's how they are and things, you kind of

    Speaker 1 (26:18):

    I'll take everyone through the cons because there's a lot. So the individual who did prefer the five-hour Workday did list, potential cons, because we did ask a question about that. So they did say the five hours might be a little too tight depending on your workload, but with everyone doing it on some adjustment and good planning, it could be a much more productive way of working that leaves time for better work-life balance. Um, so that was the con from the person who preferred the five hour Workday. The cons from everyone else were basically just, it's a lot of high stress and it's a lot of high pressure. So one person said once I got into the flow, I did feel productive, but you can't always work under such high stress levels consistently. So I don't think it's a sustainable method of being productive because it's so high stress.

    Speaker 1 (27:09):

    Again, someone put I think I didn't quite have the time to achieve what I set out last working five hour days at first, they thought it sounded fantastic, but they soon realized that if any new tasks came in or urgent work was required then the structure of the working day is out of the window. And they did find themselves working over the hours and everything seems rushed while doing the five hour week. Um, again, someone said that productivity did increase, but they spent a lot less time in meetings as they needed the time to do the work. I wouldn't say this is always a good thing. As I felt more stressed, trying to cram everything in. And there was less communication with my team. So I suppose when you're working on tasks for yourself, it could be good to just be like, I'm going to work solidly for five hours, but it's when you're working cross departments, it's quite hard to communicate. And if you're then finishing at one o'clock and someone else is obviously it only works if people are literally work into that strict schedule, if someone's working over the time and then someone's not there for you to communicate with it's, it's really it obstructs the workflow really doesn't it.

    Speaker 2 (28:18):

    I also think that, um, because like, you know, like you say that if you're working till one o'clock, that's fine. And then you've got that afternoon off for a better work-life balance. But when it's kind of done in silo, as in like, if there's just one or two companies doing it, it's kind of, it feels like it's a bit wasted because you're the half of whoever is still at work and sort of five o'clock or whatever you have the afternoon off. But, you know, you can't, don't feel you can enjoy it as much as you can with like, uh, you know, uh, time off for the weekend and having, uh, a longer weekend, um, quite often a four-day work week. Um, which, so it might work better if, if everyone was doing it, not just your company, but you know, other different companies and where you can go and see your mates or whatever, um,

    Speaker 1 (29:03):

    It would have to be a universal thing. Definitely. Yeah. And I think that's maybe like light years away. Well, not like maybe like a historical timeline. Maybe it'll be, we've switched to the eight hour Workday. Then we switched to the four day week. Then we'll switch to the five hour Workday. That might be the historical timeline.

    Speaker 2 (29:27):

    Maybe.

    Speaker 1 (29:29):

    And this will be looked back on as a, as a point of reference. But, um, I just want to bring up this other one comment it  is from someone specifically in business development. So they said that they weren't a fan of the five-hour days. So as well as managing a team, it felt like there just wasn't enough time in the day, um, from a business development perspective, it can be unpredictable as, and when we're busy at kind of client's availability that they couldn't see that option working, which is fair enough. And I suppose when you are offering a service to other businesses, you have to be able to adapt and work around them. So it's, it's not all on your own terms is that you've, you've got to

    Speaker 2 (30:14):

    Yeah. And we had that kind of raised  as well in the concept of the four day work week. So you're wider than kind of just our experiment it's does it work for your business? Is it what the business does, you know, kind of, it depends on the industry and in your position and what you do.

    Speaker 1 (30:31):

    So it was a lot just about the high stress, high pressure, not enough time. And then also a couple of times it was brought up by a lot of people that it's a method that doesn't really work well when you're coming the office. So it might be better for people that are fully remote, but, um, someone said as someone who lives a little further away, the hassle of coming in just for a portion of the day, seemed a bit daft. It definitely lends itself better to working from home in my opinion. Um, and I think a lot of people, if you do have a longer commute into the office to then work for five hours and have to go home, it's just a lot of extra added cost and

    Speaker 2 (31:16):

    Like, you know, if you're, if you're a commute, I think even for us up here, I think, you know, we can, it might be an extra two hours and a five-hour Workday for whoever that was the furthest away, but local London-based, you know, some people are commuting for two hours plus to get the office. That's like, yeah, the amount of time they'd be in the office at the amount of time to be back. So

    Speaker 1 (31:38):

    Exactly. So overall the five day work week first was not successful. Everything was pretty rushed, high pressure, and it wasn't as feasible as the four day work week, which did have an overwhelmingly positive response, but there was actually one person also on the survey who didn't prefer either option. So I'll just go through what they said, because they felt that the two options left them feeling stressed about not having enough time to complete tasks and to get necessary meetings in place for each week. The five hour work day in particular could really easily lead to burnout and overload. And overall, there was just too little time. Also that person said that they didn't do much with their spare day with the four day week. So for them it was just, they would have rather have kept that normal working hours.

    Speaker 2 (32:28):

    Well, we hope you found our insights, my little experiment. Interesting. And, um, kind of, you know, who knows where the future of the work week will go. So, whilst we’ve been doing this experiment within Oak, we've also been speaking to Cara De Lange, Founder and CEO of Softer Success who are officially a four day work week company. We spoke to wellbeing, expert, Cara, about how the business implemented the four-day week and her top tips for managing burnout.

    Speaker 1 (32:59):

    Are you interested in learning more about the four day week head over to our part two of this future of work episode, where we interview Carter, who is the founder and CEO of softer success, a company who operate on a four day week policy and focus in helping and preventing burnout in this episode, you'll also hear us wrap up all the key findings from both interviews in a nutshell.

    Episode Transcript 2 

    Speaker 1 (00:10):

    Welcome to Comms In A Nutshell, your go-to place to listen to discussions with industry experts and global brands about the world of work, internal comms, technology and how you can get the best out of your workforce. At the end of each episode, we wrap up all the tips and findings in a nutshell so that you can start implementing them right away.

    Speaker 1 (00:33):

    In this episode, myself and Scott speak to Cara De Lange, Cara is a wellbeing consultant, author, international burnout expert. Cara founded her company softer success. She empowers some of the world's leading organizations and their employees to proactively prevent burnout. Cara's, powerful program "Prevent burnout, find balance" enables individual clients and corporate teams to create a harmonious, peaceful, and productive life. With over 20 years experience in fast paced, multinational companies, such as Google and Saatchi and Saatchi. Cara is passionate about helping people look after their wellbeing. Cara is also an associate of the international stress management association and a member of the organizing committee for the international stress awareness week. Cara's company, softer success, are also a company who practices a four day week. And we'll be chatting to her about how it works for them, why they're behind the four day week movement, as well as how to prevent burnout. Enjoy this episode.

    New Speaker (01:39):

    Welcome to Comms In A Nutshell, in this episode, we're going to be exploring the future of work, different working patterns, such as the four day work week and different ways of approaching how we work. And today we're joined by wellbeing, expert, author, and founder of softer success Cara De Lange. So Cara, before we get into the episode, do you want to tell the listeners a bit more about yourself and how you came to be where you are today?

    Speaker 2 (02:04):

    Yes. Thank you, Victoria. And hello everybody. I'm delighted to be here. So, uh, I, uh, been, I run softer success and we're, um, mental health and wellbeing consultancy. And I've had many years of experience working in, uh, in tech, uh, international companies all over the world. And what really led me to set this up and we're specialized actually in, in helping people prevent burnout. And that's where my big passion comes out because many, many years ago I was working for a large tech company and, um, thought I managed my stress all quite well, actually, cause we will have a little bit of stress, right? And sometimes it's more than sometimes it's less than we do need a little bit of stress to get things done. Um, but I got to a point of burnout and I hadn't seen it coming. And uh, in heart of this burnout, I went to see a wonderful sleep and energy expert, a lovely lady called Dr. Narina Manukyan

    Speaker 2 (03:02):

    and she said to me, she said, you know, what's happened to you. This is a gift. And I went, no, this is awful. This is not a gift. This is terrible. I mean, I've, you know, I've, I'm suffering from, I can't sleep properly. I'm feeling really worn down. My shoulders were, were really sore. And, uh, that was actually the kickstart to my recovery because what I realized is that I had been really hard on myself and the reason I hadn't seen it coming as it just hadn't tuned in. And I wasn't aware really what burnout was and that was the kickstart to my recovery and what it led to was that I started helping people at work. Um, and that's what, how it all started. I just started to think, well, actually what I didn't see, you know, that's help other people avoid going through this.

    Speaker 2 (03:50):

    Um, and what I didn't see. So I completely retrained. Um, and, uh, and yes, and so now we, what we really do is help raise awareness about burnout, help people understand what it is and help them prevent it. And that goes across individuals, teams, and organizations, because if you're going to look at, you know, change in culture or doing things differently in an organization, in a business, um, and looking at different ways of working, we need to do it all together. Um, and that's really sort of how I got to it and I wrote a book about it. And, uh, we now do all kinds of research on it, um, working together with, um, the university of Sheffield and, um, and, and King's college on, on all kinds of things about burnout at the moment that are coming up also to do with the pandemic is really interesting.

    Speaker 1 (04:38):

    Yeah. Do you find that you offer the same advice to each business to prevent burnout or is it different depending on the business ?

    Speaker 2 (04:47):

    It's completely different depending on the business. I mean, I think there's some structural things that, um, research has shown us and that we know, uh, you know, I mean, w there's a lot of talk about something called psychological safety, um, which, uh, you know, creating that trust within teams, um, and across organizations and this really important. And we know that across the board and that there's wide research on that. We know that that's important as a baseline, but in terms of helping organizations, and we specifically also work with startups and some of the future, you know, the big growing companies at the moment is making sure that they, I call it future proofing. Uh, the, you know, the wellbeing plans are they're set up, um, to, with a framework that works for that particular organization and, and everybody's different.

    Speaker 2 (05:40):

    And what we do is we measure, we help people measure burnout, um, with an assessment tool, with the motto of, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. Right. And somebody that may think their burnout, um, may not be, or somebody that may think they're not at risk, may be at risk. What we're doing is help people measuring the risk of it, not actually giving them medical diagnosis, because you need to go to a doctor for that, but it's really helping people identify that risk. And that works quite well for individuals, but also for teams going, Hey, team, how are we doing now? What is it that we need to navigate and change? And what's our risk looking like this week? Um, so it's an anonymous tool and again, it's, uh, it's, it's a way of helping to prevent. That's great.

    Speaker 3 (06:31):

    So, I know Cara as well. You've got kind of, you know, you're, you're CEO of the business Softer Success and was when did you, as a company make the switch to four day week or is that always kind of been, you know, the kind of one, the foundations of the business?

    Speaker 2 (06:46):

    Yeah, we, I mean, I've actually always done it since setting up the business. Um, I said, okay, we need to work differently. And there's no reason why. I mean, whoever 80, 90 years ago, it was decided we needed a five day work week, um, and work so many hours. But what's to say that we need to do that now with the technology. So advanced as it is with things that are automated, um, you know, with all kinds of things. And so I made a conscious decision to say, I'm going to run a business, uh, well working four days a week. So I could see for my own productivity that this was so good because, you know, I happened to have, I don't work Fridays. So again, that's often different for some of the people that work at softer success it's another day. Um, and, uh, I really noticed that this helped my productivity and helped me be sustainably productive.

    Speaker 2 (07:44):

    And I think that's where we want to get with the four day work week. And I liked it so much that I then connected with Joe Ryle of them four day work week campaign earlier this year and said, look, we want to, we want to pledge towards this and, and really formalize it. And so, um, it's, uh, it's four days a week, the same pay. Um, and I think that's very important to notice and it's been hugely successful in quite a few countries. Um, there's an amazing case study on it from New Zealand and Iceland, and, you know, they're there, it's now launched in the U S um, and I think some countries will take a longer while to adopt it in some businesses, but there's no reason why this could not work. Um, and again, this fits in with revolutionizing the way we work and let's all try this again.

    Speaker 2 (08:36):

    We all thought that we worked best in an office and for some people that may still be the case. However, many of us have been working from home continuously for the last year and a half and, and the productivity hasn't gone down and in lots for lots of businesses, um, which has also shown us that we can more agile, we can be more flexible. We can work in different ways that suits the individual. And I think that's just what I want to say there is that what works for one doesn't work for the other? Yeah. So the four day work week, I think should be an option it's optional. Um, uh, if I were to hire somebody that said, well, actually I really, for me, five days is best. Um, or I prefer working four and a half days, um, or I prefer just new. So I think it's just about hearing what, what, what that person will help them be more productive and sustainably productive. And that's what we want to get, not productive in sort of burst, but actually keep going productive and that, that continuous way right. Where we feel healthy and well we're energized. And yeah, we'll have more moments that we're, you know, feeling more stressed than, than other days and that's normal, but it's also about managing that.

    Speaker 3 (09:56):

    Yeah. I think you touched on that there, um, which is going to be one of our next questions was for you how do you work at, can everybody pick their own day off throughout the week? Or is it as kind of a set business day?

    Speaker 2 (10:06):

    Yes, it's still fairly new. Um, so at the moment we sort of said Fridays, but actually we, you know, giving people the option to choose. Um, and as we're growing, um, you know, there's some times there's the choice of actually, let's make sure we have positive coverage on every day, but each person gets, uh, gets their slot, you know, cause w I prefer the Friday, but that may not work for, you know, some people may say, I don't like Monday, I don't know, working on Mondays, I'll take Monday, or actually I like the middle of the week is quite good to have a bit of a breather and dedicate some time to myself and just, you know, decompressing. Um, and, and so I think it's, again, it really needs to be asked, um, the individual ask the team what they prefer. Um, and I kind of keep going back, you know, the way that I think of this and the way that I think of sort of flexible working is, um, and I was speaking to my intern about that and saying, you know, I don't know, going back in time, people used to work in guilds, right.

    Speaker 2 (11:09):

    And it was, they were supporting each other and there was flexibility. And when one person couldn't do something, someone else dumped in and, you know, it was led by these gills. So there wasn't, you know, managers at the top yes. Had to, but they work together very strongly as a team. And I'm seeing businesses that are doing that, that are kind of more flat organizations becoming quite successful. Um, and keeping the employees sustainably productive. And there's this ownership isn't there of like, well, as a team, you know, we're going to make this, we're going to make this work. Um, and so I really see that as, as one of the future ways of working, um, there's more autonomy, there's more control over the workload, but there's also a real collaboration and real kind of looking after and, and caring. And there is a psychological safety within a team that has that.

    Speaker 1 (12:06):

    So what do your employees kind of say about it then.

    Speaker 2 (12:11):

    We've only got two at the moment, quite small, we're growing, so we're growing, but, um, yeah, so we're still quite small, but we are growing and, uh, what do they say? So again, I spoke to them about that and said, what do you like the most? And what do you find that is, is, is useful? And I think one of the biggest answers that came back was to know that I have that time and that time that's going to come back to me that I can decide what I want to do, that I can, you know, relax on that day. Um, and it brings back some energy for, you know, the next chunk of work and, you know, right. So again, we do need to decompress and if we keep going all the time, um, initially that's where they said five days a week and two days weekend, but, you know, we're all on switched on a lot of the time.

    Speaker 2 (13:05):

    So how can we, you know, we could manage that in a slightly different way. Wouldn't things become more flexible, right. So, okay. You know, 80% of us actually work in out of hours out of the hours. So have we been given it for saying working Monday to Friday? Um, and a lot of people work weekends and holidays, and why is that? Because we do like a bit of flexibility. And if somebody wants to, you know, check a few things on a Sunday, because it makes them feel calm or on a Monday, and that's our choice, did you? Right. But then at one point further on in the week, there needs to be a moment where there is a, a balance, right? So there is a switch off time later on in the week. And I think that's what people often forget. So maybe do that on a Sunday, and then I've got really busy week ahead and I'll go, go, go, go, go.

    Speaker 2 (13:55):

    And then I get to Friday and feel exhausted and still not on top of things to do that again. So maybe we'll need to work the whole day next Sunday to catch up. So you see those no decompressed time and that kind of outlook. So it's about having, okay, if I'm done that this week, where am I going to find a slot for, for rest for a little bit of time, for me, for some exercise, for, you know, um, a bit of time for deep work. Um, so I love that it was something that we recommended at softer success is about people finding time to, to book in deep work, um, which was the term coined by professor Cal Newport to Georgetown university. And, um, it's about really working without any distractions. Um, and funnily enough, talking to a neuroscientist who, um, who's on our advisory board said, well, we were not born to multitask.

    Speaker 2 (14:53):

    We're not the brain doesn't like multitasking. And, um, that it takes the brain the same energy to check a social media post as it does to, you know, work on, uh, on a project, right. In something, you know, so, or, or, or five nine, whatever details you're doing for your work. So again, it's our choice, right? Uh, thinking about this actively and when I'm working, can I actually switch my phone to airplane mode for an hour? Can I turn off all the other, um, or the other, um, you know, thing, I was going to say apps, but they're not apps, but pages that I have up, could I, um, make sure that I'm putting my phone on silent and not getting notifications and be aware and think, oh, you know what? Yeah. I'm not going to look at that right now because I know that's going to get my brain more tired and I want to focus on this task. Right. So it's making the choices for ourselves instead of, oh, I'm distracted. I can't, I don't want to work on this project. Maybe I'll just check my phone, social media, but that's happened. It was all,

    Speaker 1 (16:06):

    Oh, you go Scott.

    Speaker 3 (16:08):

    It's so easy to do, isn't it? You know, your, your phone is never leaves your side next. It's,

    Speaker 1 (16:16):

    I'm reading a book at the moment it's called working hard or hardly working by Grace Beverly. And she kind of talks a lot about that. And she talks about getting into like the deep flow of work and she gives loads of recommendations on like, what you can do and tasks you can do before to help you get into it. And I feel like it's helped the way I work. And now I try to think, right. Well, I definitely want to have two hours where I try and really get into that deep work. And then you're like a lot more creative, a lot more productive and you just feel a lot more motivated about it. So, yeah.

    Speaker 2 (16:46):

    Yeah. Yeah. And it's about being aware of that. Right. I think I'm actively going to turn off everything when I have to really, you know, we're in a creation mode or if I'd been in writing mode, when I was writing my book again, um, I turned, I put my phone away, it put it in another room even, um, you know, and just had everything off and just focused on that. And sometimes it didn't, it doesn't work right. And your creativity's, or it's not. So you, then you just take a break and maybe, you know, it's focusing on some breathing or just actually coming back into your body. I mean, there's a kind of individual techniques that I would say to people, you know, why don't you give her hands a robe and just feel your hands for me, you know? Cause we're so in our, in our head and we're so focused on our screens that actually just coming back into your body, tap your feet on the floor, some super simple techniques that will get us back in and we'll get us maybe a little bit more energized and we'll get us back into.

    Speaker 2 (17:47):

    Alright. Um, okay. So I'm pushing myself really hard, but nothing's happening. So maybe it's time to take a little break. Maybe it's just time to go and get a glass of water, you know? Um, yeah. Being so hard on ourselves as well,

    Speaker 1 (18:02):

    Because it's not necessarily about the amount of time you work. It's about how you're doing that work and whether it's productive and whether you're in it really, I think we're talking about with this experiment that we're doing, um, we've kind of said, like, it's not about the hours that you're working, it's the work that you are doing and whether the productivity output is good or not. So we're in the midst of it right now. And we've had some, we've had some interesting feedback so far.

    Speaker 2 (18:30):

    Yeah. So, so you guys are experimenting with a four day work week, so that's really exciting. And, um, has the feedback being positive or mixed or what have you had?

    Speaker 3 (18:41):

    It's been mixed because we're also trialing kind of the five hour work day, um, between people. Um, and I like last week I did the five hour Workday and I was speaking to, um, one of the colleagues who did the four day work week, last week. And I think it's telling you that they're about stopping so hard on yourselves, but if you both, you want to trail this. We both came away and thought we kind of felt a little bit guilty. You know, like when, when I finished, I did eight til one. So like I finished in the afternoon or like on Monday. And then, uh, my colleague was saying, she like, you know, she did the four week, their work week was off on Friday. And we're just, we're both saying like, you just feel a little bit guilty because it's kind of so ingrained in you that, you know, you kind of work this set pattern that you've always done. Um, but yeah, I think, um, the four day weeks seems to be a bit more easier to adapt to than the five hour work day we've kind of gone from one extreme to the other.

    Speaker 1 (19:38):

    I think the consensus has been cause a lot of people have tried the five hour work day. And I think one of the girls on the design team, she said that she was really productive and she'd actually worked for five hours straight. She got so much done, but I felt like I struggled. I felt like I was stressed. I was constantly watching the clock and I couldn't really relax as such. So I think I'm looking forward to the four day work week and a lot of people that I've spoke to, they've said, oh, I'm a bit more excited to try that because I feel like it's more realistic to do rather than a five-hour Workday.

    Speaker 2 (20:11):

    And it's not to say we may not get to a five-hour Workday or maybe even a, you know, a six, seven hour Workday instead of an eight one, but that's not to say we're not, but we've got a lot of mindset changing to do. And exactly, as you said, Scott, there's a lot ingrained and that's, what's so exciting about this time now that we're working is that we, you know, revolution is necessary. We do need to reset the whole thinking patterns about how we work and unlearn some unhealthy habits that we've built up over the years. Um, you know, uh, and I think that's really, really interesting. So I think that's such a great experiment that you guys are doing and it helps you as an right. So as you said, Victoria, you're you case of that actually caused you more stress than you thought.

    Speaker 2 (20:55):

    So you already know that that that pattern doesn't work for you. Um, so this is what this an experiment is so good because where you're finding out what works for the individual and what works for the team, um, obviously understand that not all businesses have the space to do this, but giving the employees the flexibility and the opportunity to, to try, I think is really, really positive. And again, the more flexibility and autonomy we have, the more we can do to prevent burnout. Burnout it sits with our individual and how we know ourselves, right? And, and, and again, the whole reason I created softer success and that the name already says it is the whole reason about softer success was we can actually be sustainably, productive and not be so hard on ourselves all the time and not push ourselves all the time.

    Speaker 2 (21:47):

    It's all about taking things within the flow and making sure that we're not going over that, that edge over into burnout. So there's a lot we can do as individuals. Now, the deep work really helps. Um, you know, we do know that we work towards our ultradian rhythms. So every 90 minutes, um, the body goes through the same sort of cycle that we had at night. So at night we have circadian rhythms and a basic rest and activity cycle. And during the day we have something called the ultradian rhythm, which is a similar cycle except we're awake, but that means every 90 minutes we'll have a peak concentration. And then that will kind of go down again. It's good to be very aware of that. So little micro breaks, um, it's after those 90 minutes that we'll be like, Hm, I need a cup of coffee, or I need that sugary snack, or I need something because our concentration has gone down.

    Speaker 2 (22:40):

    And what we really want to do at that time is go, okay, I'm going to do a quick little micro wellness of 60 seconds. And, you know, again, rub the hands together, just start up and have a stretch, shake the body. It could be anything. Um, but being aware of that, uh, I think it's number one. So there's a lot that we can do as individuals, as teams it's about working towards creating psychological safety. Um, and one thing that we're just beginning to do some research on is seeing burnout and something called moral injustice, the links of that. So that's when we've seen something at work or in our working environment that goes against our own personal values and beliefs. Um, and that's so important at the moment is we're all working towards our meaning and our purpose and something that's really come out of the pandemic is that people really want that.

    Speaker 2 (23:32):

    Why are so many people are resigning from their jobs and changing is because they want to, you know, it's about something they may not have been happy with or change, or, you know, what can I do to, you know, we want to work towards creating a better environment. We want to work towards creating better wellbeing and health. And so why not incorporate that and make sure that we work on that as teams as well. Right? Um, and then the organization can obviously look at things and help their employees and should even, I mean, in my opinion should even be part of, of, um, organizations, missions, and values. You know, we, as a company, agree to provide you the best possible training that we can to help you, um, look at preventing burnout, help you find balance, be sustainably productive, to develop psychological safety, to lead with compassion. We, as an organization, we agree to help you. Um, you know, that, that time off is okay, you're not, is allowed and, you know, wellbeing in my opinion, again wellbeing should be part of, um, performance reviews should be a performance review, should have the equal amount of a wellbeing section, to be honest, um, because, and our own personal health and wellbeing, uh, why should we not have it there? Right. Because our health and wellbeing affects our performance.

    Speaker 1 (24:55):

    It does. I think we at Oak, we have a very good culture and attitudes surrounding wellbeing, but what would you suggest to companies then that kind of, haven't got that at the moment? How, how can they start to implement that?

    Speaker 2 (25:10):

    Yeah, I think the first step is learning about, you know, learning about psychological safety and leading with compassion, leading with empathy. And I like to say for everybody, or we run a course on that, but ideally, um, everybody attends that because that is the future leaders, the option to tweak things and it gives everybody a chance to lead. Uh, it's inclusive. It feels right. You know, why, why did just, uh, managers and leaders have to do it? What could could all in the company attend? And, and we do work. We actually worked with a startup that did do that for, for everybody and, and they received really great feedback on it. Um, so I'd probably be, that would be one of my, my tips and measure again, look at measuring, assessing the risk of burnout. That is hugely important because again, if we can't, uh, in a scientifically backed way, so this is what we found is that so many people still think that burnout is just exhaustion.

    Speaker 2 (26:09):

    It's not, you know, there's, um, uh, negativity and cynicism that, that kicks in for a longer period of time. Yes. We're less productive. Yes. There can be some moral injustice. There, there are a whole lot of other little factors that people may or may not be aware of. They're the secondary symptoms are there, the physical symptoms that we feel or things that happen in our body. Um, and so what we're doing is trying to help create people, help people be aware of that, to be aware, to look out for and measure that. And then, you know, um, an inner assessment, you know, little heat map comes up with, so, you know, great, this is how you can work towards preventing it and blah, blah, blah. This is what you can do. So, um, resources are provided. I hope that's helpful.

    Speaker 1 (26:52):

    Amazing it is.

    Speaker 3 (26:54):

    With some of the businesses you've worked with, do you kind of see or is there a pattern of like obstacles or roadblocks to adapting kind of, you know, some of the ways to better work of the four-day work week or on the whole, as it kind of, they're very receptive to all the suggestions.

    Speaker 2 (27:11):

    Yeah. There's usually, there's a huge receptivity to suggestions, but what we often need to do is create the blend, right? So the managers and leaders may have operated in a certain way. There's a culture within the organization where people are going to operate in a certain way. Um, and so we need to understand that, um, I mean, you can't change it until you understand it and why that is. And, you know, you create a culture in a business. I mean, I'm aware of that. We are really small, but, um, already with a couple of employees, you have a culture, right. You're creating a culture. So it's about being aware of that, no matter how big or small you are. And some of the larger organizations a lot is really fragmented and they may have a lot of benefits or they may have a lot of things to help people's wellbeing, but they may not always know the individual may not know how to find that.

    Speaker 2 (28:03):

    Um, so again, it's that, you know, helping them direct them in the right way. Um, that's another thing we do with our assessment. We kind of help redirect back to the, not only share our own resources, but back to any company benefits or things that the business has created, because that's really important too. And at the moment it's really quite a, um, you know, there's a mismatch, there's often a mismatch mismatch, so there may be, uh, an HR team or a wellbeing team. That's wanting to create something that's very much aware of things. Um, but then you still have your C-suite leadership that are going. Yeah. Great. Um, but no, we did, uh, we get to see the return on investments.

    Speaker 2 (28:48):

    Um, so yeah, so we do every in every organization is different. Uh, it starts with awareness. We now know from the pandemic that wellbeing is, should be at the forefront, but we're nowhere near there yet. Um, you know, what causes burnout for somebody working in a bank or a lawyer it's so different to a doctor is so different to a tech startup. Um, some of the key factors are quite similar, but others are different and we've got to be aware of that and organizations need to be aware of that as well. Um, and the word needs to be used. So there's still a stigma on the word burnout, which we're smashing through the wool. Um, but there still is. So if you ask your individual, um, team, you know, or a small team or a large team and say, right, let's talk about burnout. Everybody will go, um, is it being recorded?

    Speaker 2 (29:46):

    Um, I don't really want to speak, you know, but I don't want it. I don't want anybody to know, or I don't, you know, so what we're trying to do is bring that, actually bring that out in the open, because the only way, and it's the same with a health problem, like a physical health problem, right? Like, um, we, we, we, where do we get these ergonomic assessments to sit properly in our chair, right? The only way that we're going to help prevent things with our back or poor posture or, you know, um, misalignment and, and, and, you know, for, for later in our life, we need to look at ways to prevent it and we need to talk about it and somebody needs to come along and assess that. Right. And then help you create changes. It's the same thing with burnout. Talk about it. Let's find out what it really is. Let's understand. It let's measure the risk of it. And then let's help, uh, look preventing it.

    Speaker 1 (30:38):

    Do you think that a four day work week is universally achievable for all businesses. Or do you think it depends?

    Speaker 2 (30:46):

    It depends. I think that will depend. And that will depend on which businesses decide to ask their employees what they want, um, which kind of will dictate as in what it is that's expected. Um, and so I, I, I'm not going to say that will work for every single organization. Uh, again, we need to have that flexibility and some, for some business, it is, it, it may not work, but there may be another option that works. They may go forever. You know, we, we were also said we have to work eight hours a day. You know, why could they not, maybe there'll be other businesses that say we're adapting and moving to seven, we're moving to six. That's more suitable for us, but we're doing it five days a week. So, um, it's, it's got to be open and flexible across the world because, you know, we can't may not work for every business across the world. But what I think the big message here is it's, let's look at working flexibly and let's create different patterns to suit individuals so that we can all be more sustainably, productive and prevent burnout.

    Speaker 1 (31:53):

    Yeah. Cause it's not just necessarily the four day work week, is it there's different start times flexible hours and things like that. So I think it's about focusing on individuals and what they need, because like you said, not everyone is the same. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (32:05):

    Yeah. And I mean, I'm seeing that with some businesses now with sort of coming back into work, I like to say post pandemic let's be optimistic. Right. Um, and, uh, and so now, you know, post the lockdown period and some are dictating it saying, well, we want you in three days a week. Um, so we want to have you in three days a week, others is saying, you know, uh, pick and choose others are saying, actually we want you fully back. Um, cause we've seen that that's we want that. We think that's the best way of working and, and they have to find that out. Right. If they start the ones, the ones that have said full time and, uh, people are back on the commute and they're seeing the, you know, burnout levels are, are going up. Maybe that's what they it's time for them to amend it.

    Speaker 2 (32:55):

    It's different. We have to keep changing it.

    Speaker 3 (32:57):

    What would be your top tips to prevent burnout?

    Speaker 2 (33:01):

    Hmm. Okay. So, uh, for the individual, make sure you look at plannings and deep work in your week, or whether it's just an hour that you make sure you switch everything off. And you're just focusing on that one particular thing, touch back in with your body, from time to time, even it's tapping your feet on the floor and feeling your hands and, uh, something else that we've seen, that's really effective as I call it, planning your joy. So this is a mindset thing where you're asking, we don't tend to plan joy. It's more spontaneous, but we've seen effectively, uh, more productivity, uh, if people plan in their joy and that's a again, it's a, your mind that saying, you know, joy is often more spontaneous, but what really brings me joy and I'm going to pay attention to that for some that's that, you know, warm beverage that they drink for others, it's being mindful of that.

    Speaker 2 (33:53):

    Right. Instead of going ohwork, it's all work I've got no time. And it's all back to back. You can certainly find 60 seconds to just take back and go, ah, I'm just, I'm just, I'm just opening the window and getting some fresh air. I mean, I think the most simple thing, one of our clients, you know what, he, basically, I asked him what brings you joy? And you say, well, that's just kicking a ball around with my son. So he just changed his schedule around a bit. So that he'd have 10, 15 minutes to do that a couple of times in a week. So, you know, it's, it's just about thinking, you know, where can I factor that in? And do I really have to be, um, back to back? I mean, for me, it's going for a quick walk in the morning or having a movement to just get outside or having time for the meditation.

    Speaker 2 (34:44):

    And that's all what I call my time with the time that I, the mini mini wellness bits that I take back in the day. So it doesn't all have to be, oh, it's all work. It's all, you know, take it back. Right. Take some time for yourself, even if it's 60 seconds and plan your joy with it and put your mindset to that too.

    Speaker 1 (35:02):

    What are your favorite ways of winding down and having balance?

    Speaker 2 (35:08):

    Yeah, so I combat, uh, so at the moment we're quite busy with, you know, our assessment tool and getting that out. So I'm very careful in how I plan my day, um, make sure that I don't have too many back to backs. And if I do, then I always make sure that before I go one to the next, I do a quick Qi gong exercise. Have you guys ever heard of Qi gong?

    Speaker 2 (35:31):

    It's really cool. It's, it's similar to Thai Chi, but it's, uh, it brings your energy up. So, um, yes, I have a quick look. There's some really fun videos and YouTube and um, yeah. And so I do one of those, uh, briefly, uh, just before going. So that's, again, my joy, that's my moment. I do, uh, use, uh, deep breathing breath work and meditation works really well because one thing I realized when I did go through my burnout is that I didn't breathe properly. Um, and so this exacerbated a lot of sort of feelings of stress. So I focus on that 80% of us hold our breath when we're checking emails. So there's a, there's something for you to be aware of. It's about checking my emails and my breathing, right. Or these little things

    Speaker 1 (36:22):

    I've started going to yoga and I didn't realize my breathing. Isn't great, at all. And I think when you go, you kind of, you become so much more aware when you do things like that, of how to actually make your body feel calm after yoga I feel so calm it's. Yeah. It's incredible. So it's about finding things individually that make you feel balanced, but for some people it might not be yoga, not everybody's yoga and for some people it's going on a walk, reading a book then getting outside is definitely good. Yeah,

    Speaker 2 (36:55):

    Absolutely. And I mean I was going to say, you do that downward dog to get your breathing going. For a lot of people that does really help. So yeah. You know, w w we, we're all individuals and we've all it's about. I think that's our biggest, um, fun, uh, an interesting kind of quest that we can do in terms of navigating a work reset revolution is working out what works for us, what works for you as the individual? Like what, what works for you? And, you know, what may work for me and doing some Qi Gong exercises and deep breathing may not work for somebody else. Right. Um, and your, your yoga may not work. So it's, we just gotta be more self-aware. So self-awareness is huge.

    Speaker 1 (37:41):

    Yeah, definitely. And I think one other question that we want to ask is, obviously employees might not know that they're burned out. They might not know what it is. And obviously if you're at work, how can businesses take some form of responsibility and ensure that their employees aren't burning out?

    Speaker 2 (38:01):

    Do our assessment. Yeah, no, they it's, it's, that's the best way. Cause it's a scientifically backed method that really we understand and helps us understand the risk of burnout. And I think as an organization that is, you know, more, more than, you know, it's so important to us to ask employees what they want. But more than that, it's almost your, the best thing you can do is to help, um, employees understand what that risk is and then help them prevent it. Um, so you measuring it's, it's, it's the only way because we're otherwise going to get into this whole thing of, I feel burnt out if you're burnt out, are you, are you not? Is it something else? How do you know if it is or not? And people just don't know because it's bit of a buzzword. And what we're trying to do is say, right, actually yes, it may be a buzzword, but let's get to the actual, you know, understanding what it is when we understand we can then help you prevent. Exactly.

    Speaker 1 (39:05):

    Yes. Thank you so much for chatting to us, your knowledge is invaluable.

    Speaker 2 (39:11):

    And it's been really great to talk to you guys. And I just love that you are all doing this experiment to see what way working works best. I mean, what, what, what better thing could a business do to give their employees a little bit of autonomy, a little bit of freedom to understand what works for them or what doesn't.

    Speaker 1 (39:33):

    Exactly, yeah. We'll, we'll keep you posted with the results.

    Speaker 2 (39:35):

    Do yes. I'd. Love to hear

    Speaker 1 (39:38):

    Right. Well, thanks everybody for listening .

    Speaker 1 (39:41):

    From this episode, there are a few key findings that we can wrap up in a nutshell. Number one, productivity, isn't a one size fits all approach. Each individual and enterprise works completely differently. So it's important to consider that when testing out new initiatives, such as the four day week, and it's important to find out what works for each person. If you're thinking of doing something like this, why not get feedback from your employees first and see how they feel and how it could work for you. Number two, it's important to make choices when approaching work tasks that will enable us to engage in deep work. So things like switching off, any distractions, putting your phone in another room, or really just sitting down and getting prepared for the task at hand. Number three, giving your employees the flexibility to incorporate them little things that bring them joy and balance into their Workday will help massively with their wellbeing and keeping your employees engaged and productive. Again, we'd like to thank Cara for being a wonderful guest on this episode and sharing her insights with us. And we really hope you enjoyed them to see you again for the next episode.

     

    Victoria

    Vic is one of Oaks Content Marketing Specialists. She specialises in communication and marketing and is also a host on the Comms In A Nutshell podcast for Internal Comms & HR professionals.