Three on ‘off’er

The Asian Age.  | Sean Colin Young

Life, More Features

Once the trial concluded, it was observed that productivity had received a major boost by almost 40 per cent.

Recently, Japan and New Zealand explopred the notion of giving employees three days off, while the results were satisfactory, we wonder if it would thrive in India.

Put on your dream goggles, sit back and visualise this! There is a job where you get not two but three days off from your work. A good dream, right? Well, apparently this phenomenon has been true in the past. Earlier this year, one of the Microsoft offices in Japan conducted an experiment that involved giving more than 2,000 employees every Friday along with the weekends off.

Once the trial had concluded, it was observed that productivity had received a major boost by almost 40 percent. Apart from the increased productivity, it was also observed that the frequency of taking time off (breaks) also reduced significantly and workers seemed happier. Even the environment was relieved as these employees printed fewer pages than normal and the electrical consumption reduced massively. And in terms of the internal environment, it was seen that a majority of the employees also liked the new rules.

But this was not the first time this experiment has happened and apparently, many countries like New Zealand which tried the same experiment, also produced results like reduced stress levels and much better work and personal life balance. Entrepreneur Praveshh Gaur was upbeat about the recent experiment. He adds, “This could be one of the best things that any company or an entrepreneur can provide.”

But that was the case in developed countries. What about upcoming economies like India? Would such a phenomenon work? Rashmi, a Human Resource professional is of the opinion that it would work to a certain extent in various IT companies where the working hours are long. But in the case of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), where the employee strength is up to 50, business is bound to get affected. “This ‘funda’ can work in MNCs because they will be able to save some infrastructure costs — there are a lot of wastages and there is a fee charge as well.”

So how does one manage the business with stress as not all companies can afford to have employees take three days of leave, one wonders. She was quick to point out that most of the time spent on the road. She suggests, “Either we give them timing flexibility so that they can manage the travelling time accordingly and they are not taking that stress, or we can provide them this kind of an atmosphere where they are more focussed.”

As always, there comes a “but.” In this case, it is essential for a company to let their employees know what they can do in those three days, apart from lying down. Upma Kapoor, a CEO is of the opinion that she is not happy with the idea of giving an employee three days off. She explains, “We are a developing country with certain industries and verticals requiring 24/7 operations. In those areas, it is impractical to even think about three days off in a week.”

At such a point in time, she points out that the economy needs at least five to six working days. In her mind, “It will lead to a lot of dissatisfaction for the corporates and for the employees as well. I don’t see it (three-day off system) working in India at all.”

Explaining the psychology behind this, Shweta Sharma, a clinical psychologist says, “The psychological effect is related to productivity because if you are working continuously for six-seven days, the enthusiasm becomes less. With this, if you know that ‘I have to work only for four days and I need to complete only that much work’ enthusiasm for the three days tends to make you more productive.”

Addressing the dilemma of SMEs, she believes that it is not about the time duration one has worked, but the result achieved. “If the results you are getting in four days, then how does it matter. Fewer employees or a small company or even a big company, the principal should stay the same for all,” she concludes.