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Making the switch to an Alternative Work Week

  • Posted on December 7, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Working my hours in fewer days so I can have more time off… Where do I sign up? That was my very first reaction when being introduced to the concept of Alternative Work Weeks. But what is this all about exactly? In short it means you work your contracted hours in fewer days. It isn’t about compressing your week, but about increasing efficiency and being intentional with your time to allow for more flexibility.

It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Except it’s not; this is the reality of what companies need to explore these days when thinking about flexible working of the future. More so, it’s the growing need of many employees to have that ultimate freedom and control over their own work/life balance.

That said, an Alternative Work Week won’t be the solution for everyone to have a better balance in life. It requires a lot of thought to figure out if working in a different pattern is something that might be for you, and if so, what that pattern looks like. Determined to give this a go I had a long and hard look at my work schedule and evaluated when I felt most productive and when I would prefer some time off.

I ended up choosing a pattern of working three full days of 10 hours and two half days of 5 hours (Wed and Fri). When making this choice, I felt very unsettled about what was to come because we all know how it goes: we’re working long days already, often clocking in more than forty hours. We’re in back to back calls or left with short intervals between meetings scattered throughout the day. We need to get things done but we’re sometimes feeling stuck, unproductive or frustrated. Could I really stick to working forty hours in fewer days but still have those necessary meetings AND get my work done? The answer is YES, but not without implementing some critical changes.

That’s when it really hit me that I needed to take back control over my time at work. Not only did I inform everyone I directly work with of my new pattern, I also notified them that as part of this new structure I would focus on being as efficient as possible with meetings versus core working hours. And guess what happened? I immediately felt more productive, valuing each working hour more. As I would get ready to log off for half a day, it felt like getting ready to go on holiday causing my productivity to soar even more. Admittedly, the first days of switching off there were some feelings of guilt for doing something that felt a bit “unnatural,” but undeniably my level of energy was much higher the next day.

Working in this new pattern for close to two months now I don’t think the old five-day work week would work for me anymore. Yes, there were challenges to overcome but they don’t outweigh the benefits at all. It’s also very empowering to know that this is a next (and bold!) step Avanade is exploring in flexible working and that this might just become the new way of working for many of us.

In a nutshell, my advice is to stop thinking about the roadblocks and try it out if this is a possibility for you that might work. Make sure you are prepared and committed to start your new pattern and take control over your working hours. Last but not least, do NOT feel guilty about taking that time off disconnecting from work. You’re working on being your best at work and at home, and you should feel nothing but proud for doing that.

Mirjam van Olst

Thank you for your reflections Margriet, very interesting to read!

December 18, 2020

Corrine Long

Love this! My AWW has changed my productivity and mood immensely much more than I imagined! Thank you for leading this initiative Margriet to bring AWW to life at Avanade! 

December 8, 2020

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