Is A Four Day Work Week Possible?

Is a Four-Day Workweek Possible?

Episode 60

Japan, Spain, Ireland, the list goes on as more countries embrace a four-day workweek. But is it sustainable? What are some of the challenges? Join us as we break down whether a four-day workweek is possible here or merely a dream for the property management industry.

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Show Highlights

A four-day workweek has a nice ring to it. Especially as the call for people to return to the office continues to get louder, let’s face it, Covid was and still is an incredibly disruptive force in the workplace. It showed us that there is more than one way to get our jobs done, creating the controversy that is fueling the Great Resignation. Companies may want to return to business as usual, but many are looking for something different. In this article, we join the debate and share our perspectives on what this could mean for the property management industry.

Key Questions/Topics Covered

A four-day workweek – Mark’s Perspective

Four-day workweeks may work well in other countries but are they sustainable here in the U.S.? We are a pressure-driven society that seems to be eternally focused on doing more, not less. Being a customer service-based industry, how would something like a four-day workweek be accomplished? Somebody has to be in the office. 

Yes, we have new and emerging technologies like AI and virtual assistants, but at what point do we say enough is enough? Are we risking pushing ourselves out of a job? Can technology ever truly replace the human element of customer service?

It has been my experience as well that the people demanding a different workflow, be it work-from-home or a four-day workweek, are the ones who are already not giving their jobs 100%. I think it’s fair to say that if you want this level of flexibility, you should bring nothing less than your A-game on the days you are working. 

All of that aside, there is something to be said for the fact that many felt they were actually more productive working outside of the office. This is presenting quite the challenge for companies. They either need to find a way to create an environment that will make employees happy to return or embrace the fact that Covid has changed the way business is done. 

Herein lies one of the aspects that have led to the Great Resignation. We have people leaving to find jobs that support the lifestyle they have become accustomed to, along with a younger generation that is also looking for flexibility. In my opinion, the best way to manage these expectations is a reward-type system. It’s simple if you hit all your goals for a specific period of time, then you have earned that four-day workweek or the ability to work from home. 

There is a need to mitigate these demands and focus on accountability. Companies, of course, want to attract the best and the brightest, but they can’t give in to every single request. By creating a reward system, you are clearly setting goals and expectations that benefit all involved.

A four-day workweek – Jonathan’s perspective 

I personally feel there are more significant hurdles to overcome before we can even begin to discuss the possibility of a four-day workweek. The poll I recently ran on LinkedIn highlights one of the major ones. The question was simple: How many hours do you spend working in the evening? Over 50% stated that they spend 1-2 hours on average. So how can we talk about a four-day workweek when the majority of us are currently working five days a week plus? 

This leads me to ask an even heavier question. Why are we doing this to ourselves? We need to focus on better organization for higher productivity within a standard scheduled work environment. Basically, we need to stop working overtime before we can talk about working within a reduced-hour setting. 

I also think that there would need to be a cultural shift before a four-day workweek could ever happen. As Mark said, the U.S. is a very pressure-driven society. The overwhelming attitude is to work harder, so you can do more or accumulate more belongings. As long as we reinforce this type of culture, be it personally or on a corporate level, we will continue to be working late into the evenings on top of our typical nine-to-five.

I think that the next practical step for the property management industry is to catch up. We are severely behind when it comes to finding and retaining talent. Part of that will be finding a way to offer flexible work schedules. I would even dare suggest shift work to attain this. Many other industries utilize shift work to offer more flexible scheduling to their employees. Why can’t we? And to that point, using AI and virtual agents in the correct and balanced way to aid in the workflow. These are just a few of the stepping stones I feel need to be put in place if we are going to navigate towards a four-day workweek. 

Final takeaway for a four-day workweek

If this is the wave of the future, we have to find a way to make these changes exciting and sustainable. We need to overcome the existing workflow hurdles to become more organized and productive in less time. If we are going to keep up as an industry, changes are inevitable, and it’s time to embrace things like shift work and reward systems to incentivize and retain our talent.

This has been probably one of our most opinionated podcasts to date. But the conversation needs to happen, and we would love to hear your thoughts. So let us know, do you think a four-day workweek is possible?

Class dismissed!

Jonathan (00:15): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Juvohub podcast. We are on episode 60 and I'm very excited for a couple of things. Number one, I won't be singing today. Like I had to for the last four episodes. And more importantly, number two, Mark Howl is back with me in the driver's seat on our show. Mark, how are you doing brother?

Mark (00:38): I'm great, man. I've missed you. I have missed hanging out with you and having our great conversations. So it's good to be back.

Jonathan (00:44): Yeah, well, we're, I'm grateful you're able to teach that CAM class for the Atlanta Apartment Association. So I'm sure all the students were super grateful for that too. So it's all part of the biz, you know?

Mark (00:56): That's right!

Jonathan (00:57): Helping and training others to be successful in property management. So welcome back. And today we're going to talk about: is the four day work week possible? Let me just say one thing and then I'd like your opinion on that. So what I've been reading a fair bit is like other countries that are officially transitioning to a four day work week and you know, I think, wow, that's absolutely amazing. And it's really nothing new. Like I have a few friends in different countries in Europe. My cousin lives in Australia and things like six weeks of standard vacation are the norm. That's just part of what that country offers. What is part of that work culture? And then I look at our industry, I look at, you know, our country overall, and this is becoming a bigger topic. So Mark, what do you think? You know, what is a four day a week, a work week even possible in our industry? What are your thoughts on that?

Mark (02:18): You know, it's funny as we prepare for this conversation, like you said, it's not something that we're gonna have solutions to, right? So these are our opinions. I get, you know, your research shows you what other countries have been able to accomplish. And many other countries, they do take long periods during the day where they will shut down their businesses and have long lunches and drink at lunch and very relaxed lifestyle. And that is kind of what works for their culture, what works for their industries, I guess, out there. But America is different. You know, we have this high pressure of performance and making sure that the companies are successful and, you know, we're one of the richest countries and the most powerful. And with that comes a responsibility to the industries that we all work for now for some industries, yes, maybe a four day work week is possible, but in our industry that is so customer service focused.

Mark (03:18): I worry that we are, too many of our employees in the multifamily space are asking for something that is almost impossible. You know, you do have to be at an office to take care of our customer. The sales cycle can be done. Certainly remotely, many companies are going with AIs or even virtual leasing consultants. But even with that, there's good and bad in that, right? I mean, when you are allowing the idea of, let's not have a full work week and let's let a system take over some of our, the aspects of our job, at what point do we say, okay, enough is enough with this? Like, I don't want them to take my job, but I'll tell you another thing, Jonathan, what I'm finding is I think it's so interesting as I work with clients and go out on site and work with teams, people that are demanding this I wanna work from home or I only wanna work a four day work week, but yet when they're there in the office, they're not giving it a hundred percent. And I can tell, I can see that, you know, it's like, if you want to be able to have that flexibility, then you should at least come with your A-game the days that you are going to be there. But some employees don't even wanna bring their A-game anymore.

Jonathan (04:44): Right, right. Yeah, no, I agree. I totally concur with like the bigger picture challenges that our industry has and many industries have in this country. A lot of productivity. And I think the, that there are, it, there's definitely a place for AI. There's definitely a place for moving things virtual. There's been plenty of studies that are out there that highlight where you can get some efficiencies when they're used correctly. But I did this poll and I think, and I guess I relate this to my comments earlier about European countries and Australia. So I did a little poll on LinkedIn and it was just a question like how many work hours do you spend in the evening? So the bell rings where the typical nine to five quote workday.

Jonathan (05:48): And then what happens in the evening and over 50% of the respondents were one to two hours in the evening.

Mark (05:56): Mm-Hmm .

Jonathan (05:57): So here we are a five day work week already. And then we're, as Microsoft put it, it's like the triple peak of spiking of trying to respond to things. And we'll put some links into the show notes for this reference, but you're checking and trying to respond at at peak times to whatever it is, emails, voicemails messages, text messages, slack messages, whatever it is that you're using. So here we are in the evening going through that cycle, again, of trying to communicate and trying to respond in it perpetuates to me the bigger problem of, why are we doing that to ourself? And you and I talked about this before the show started, we both own our own business and we do the same thing. So before we can ever get anywheres near talking about a four day work week, my opinion is there's just so much to work on just with what we have in place with our perception of work and how much time we spend on work and how to better organize ourselves for higher productivity within a scheduled work environment. So I dunno, what are your thoughts?

Mark (07:24): Yeah. You know, look, I think if we were having this conversation with an audience that could communicate back to us, my advice would be if somebody was, you know, working in a C-suite of an organization and like, Hey, we need advice. We have many applicants, or many employees that are asking for this type of flexibility. Look, that's not gonna go away. I think with it, as the generations continue to get younger, or maybe I get older , I don't know how we wanna say that. The demand changes, right? And their demands. I would've never have had those demands when I was young and in the industry. But now the demands are changing. The world has changed. So as organizations need to make sure that they're hiring the best possible and the brightest, you do probably need to sit down and figure out a way, how can we accommodate some of these demands?

Mark (08:16): And in my opinion, it should be on a reward system.

Jonathan (08:19): Mm-Hmm .

Mark (08:19): If you meet all of the goals, all of the expectations, if you can accomplish what it is that we need for you to accomplish in said days, however many days that is then let it be a reward that maybe on, you know, quarter two or the next month, maybe it's a bimonthly thing where you do get to work from home or take a day off or something to that capacity. I just don't think we need, I think we're setting this precedent that we're going to allow people to keep demanding more work from home environments when let's face it. I don't think our industry really can handle that. And my fear is is that if we're not careful, many companies are already looking at replacing some of the onsite positions with AI, you know, with these virtual people. And it is that's where we seem to be. So that's my thought, make it a reward system, give them something to look forward to.

Jonathan (09:20): Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All good thoughts, man. That's awesome. You know, I, fundamentally, I see certain things I'll tell you what I do see is companies that, for instance, they're tracking like when you're sending emails and they have actual policies. Okay. So you're not, you're not allowed to email unless you are within your designated work time slot.

Mark (09:54): Mm-hmm

Jonathan (09:54): Which is good. But that doesn't necessarily seem to translate to like every position, is it across the company that that policy is enforced or is it only for certain positions, certain onsite positions or even corporate positions? Like, are we all doing it? And, and that's where I feel Mark that a cultural shift has to take place where leadership is gonna be like, no, we can't do this, but I also see the big difference in like European countries where there is a big difference between what they value and what most Americans value and Americans are known for liking their things and acquiring things.

Jonathan (10:46): And often in, in some European countries, that's just not the, it's not the big focus as much. And so I'm not sure how much that has to do with it, but we're in this you know routine of trying to have enough work to kind of maintain things. And I've seen other people comment about this on LinkedIn too. So I would love to hear from our audience on this, like, what are the driving factors to this five day work week where we're working in the evenings, we're feeling compelled to do more work and like, what can we do to change? Like where does it need to start? And how do we go about it? You know, that's just my thought.

Mark (11:34): Yeah. I'd love to hear that because, you know, I'd love to know what companies might already have in place. How is this sustainable? I have heard from many friends in the industry that have said during COVID with their corporate offices being shut down, they really found themselves more productive. But now that the corporate offices are reopened and some of the companies are demanding that they come back in they are debating whether or not they really want that to be a part of their lifestyle. So they're willing to make a change, an organizational change because they've now learned to live life a different way, but, you know, look, that's a, that's the toss, that's the gamble that you take. I would love to know how people can drive their employees to wanna focus on coming back into the office, working that five day work week and be happy about it. Versus the people that don't really want to do that and then leave their organization.

Jonathan (12:33): Right. Right. And if you remember, we had Mindy McCorkle on our show a few months back and, you know, amazing speaker and teacher and she highlighted that same thing. That's what she's working with her clients is why go back to what you were doing before? When you know, you're, at a spot right now where you're seeing higher productivity and, you know, Mike Brewer, multifamily collective. If you haven't listened to his podcast audience, you definitely need to check his out because he is always talking about teasing the multifamily, like the potential of multifamily and things that we can do from a HR perspective or a technology perspective. Like what's gonna be like that next innovation in order to take us, take our industry where we want to go, because we all know our industry has been sometimes many years behind other industries in the trends. And at some point we gotta get caught up. Otherwise there's just gonna be a massive revolution. yes. And you know, we're already starting to feel the pain of it. Like how many articles have you read Mark, or have you talked about the great resignation and the issues that we're having with finding people and finding talent and retaining talent and, yeah, it's just, it's a nightmare. It's a nightmare out there. It's crazy. You know, so this is a very opinionated podcast .

Mark (14:12): For sure.

Jonathan (14:14): But we would love, we would love everyone's feedback. So let me highlight a couple of my takeaways, Mark. Maybe you have a couple to share too. So to me, we can't start talking about a four day work week when we can't get past the five day plus work week.

Mark (14:34): Mm-hmm .

Jonathan (14:35): We, we, we have to start with what it's in front of us right now, instead of like, oh yeah, that would be so nice. So that's, that's one of my takeaways. And also from a, from a cultural perspective, there has to be, it has to be across the board. So it can't be just certain job positions that have that five day, nine to five. We have to keep being innovative and set the expectations and it may come and I'll probably get blasted for this comment, but with the way we manage customer service, does it mean there has to be different shifts in order to manage that? So many industries, they have it, I mean, it's not, it's not just nine to five. We understand that. So like, what are you doing? And please share it with us. What are you doing to manage for the residents? Because the industry is 24/7. Yeah. That's my question.

Mark (15:38): Yeah. I love it. My takeaway too, from the conversations I've been having with people and just you and I talking about it is if this is the wave of the future, if this is what we need to embrace, I'm all about change. I love that our world is changing. I love that our industry is changing. We have to find ways to keep that change exciting, but sustainable and where we all get our needs met. You know, the bottom line is, is making sure that the assets are taken care of. And so how do you do that? Creating an award/reward system for your employees? An incentive that makes them worthy of this time off to me is where I would wanna start this conversation. You know, what does that look like? How can you, when you're in the hiring process with someone and they say, well, you know, at my last job I could work from home and/or I had more flexibility. What's your organization like? Like where do you go with that question? You know, like what in your organization, how do you answer that question now to future applicants and what is in place for them to feel incentivized by joining your team? So I'd love to know.

Jonathan (16:52): Yeah. Yeah. So please audience, share your comments, you know, whatever social platform you're seeing this on we appreciate your support and it's gonna take all of us, especially for a topic as big as this, it's gonna take a lot of voices and a lot of strong leaders and property management companies to continue to address it. We know it's being addressed, cause it's, we're not the first person that's talked about this. But we just wanted to do our part to kind of continue the conversation on this subject. So Mark, good to have you back, man.

Mark (17:30): Thanks for having me.

Jonathan (17:31): We got more fun things to share with the community about new products that Juvohub is releasing in the near future. But for now, please sign up for our newsletter. We'd love to have your review on your favorite podcast station. You can find us on any of the major podcast networks, or you can subscribe to our YouTube channel, just search Juvohub. And you'll be able to find us on there where there's a video rendition of this podcast. And it's very grateful for all of you who share that with your network. So until next time, class dismissed, see you guys.

Mark (18:13): Bye bye.

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