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Charlotte Lockhart of 4 Day Week Global | The Secret to Increasing Productivity by 20%

Charlotte Lockhart is a business advocate, investor and philanthropist with more than 25 years’ experience in multiple industries locally and overseas.

As CEO for the 4 Day Week Global campaign she works promoting internationally the benefits of a productivity-focused and reduced-hour workplace. Through this, she is on the board of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University and the advisory boards of the US campaign and the Ireland campaign for the 4 Day Week.

Since a diagnosis with Stage 4 breast cancer, Charlotte has become very focused on changing the way we work today to a better, more inclusive experience for everyone.

In their spare time Charlotte and Andrew enjoy working in their vineyard business on Waiheke and spending time with family.

What if you could increase productivity by 20% simply by giving your people more time off? That’s the idea that led Charlotte Lockhart to co-found 4 Day Week Global, a research and pilot program advocating a more flexible 4-day work week. It may seem radical — and yet, it works. Find out why companies all over the world are embracing this new style of flexible work, and discover the secret to producing more with less.


Charlotte Lockhart [00:00:00] If I came into your business zero, I could increase productivity by a minimum of 20% in your business. You would think I was selling you a software or something and you’d probably give me a substantial chunk of change to do that. But when I say, well, I want to increase productivity for a minimum 20% in your business by sending your people home, they think you’re crazy.

Jo Meunier [00:00:41] Hello and welcome to the Future of Work podcast by Allwork.Space. I’m Jo Meunier and today we’re talking about the four-day workweek. We’re going to be exploring how it all works, why companies are experimenting with it, and how it might impact the future of work. And who better to talk to than Charlotte Lockhart, the founder and managing director of Four Day Week Global Campaign that provides research and insights to help organizations make informed decisions about developing their own flexible work policies and ultimately to help more people benefit from a shorter but more productive working week. I’m really looking forward to digging into this. So welcome, Charlotte, and thank you for joining us today.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:01:16] My pleasure. Lovely to talk to you.

Jo Meunier [00:01:18] All right. Let’s dig in then. So, first of all, I’d just like to know a little bit about your career background, if you if you worked and how that led to you starting the four-day week.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:01:29] Right. So I have a career that sort of Spencer legal and financial services through the early part of my working life and then came to work at the Guardian and we, we bought or had perpetual trust and then we bought Guardian Trust and we came on the four day week run because Andrew Bonds, my partner, decided that he read an article in The Economist that said that productivity in the UK was less than 3 hours a day and it was worse in Canada if you’ve got any Canadian subscribers there. And he was interested in academically interested in why that is and whether that was happening in our business. And was it the things that happened in the paper and people’s ordinary lives that were getting away, getting in the way of people being able to be productive at work? So, he sent an email to I had an hour and said, hey, Christine, I’ve got this crazy idea. How about we give people a day off and see if we can improve productivity? She apparently deleted that email because she’s thinking, I’m not having any of that. This man’s a crazy person. And but then the rest is history, where we did run a very successful four-day week and now business in Perpetual Guardian, and we ran academic research that ran alongside it. So, it wasn’t just what we were reporting out afterwards, wasn’t just our word. It was it was what the what the independent academics had found.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:03:05] And the results were phenomenal. And probably well known to you, to your listeners or viewers. So, but what then happened for us is that whenever we travelled there, people were like, oh, well, you know, hey, I’d love to catch up. And so, we started meeting people, businesses, academics, people like the two. You see it just the people that were interested in what reduced our working might actually look like. Mm hmm. And it became clear that there was a real need for a proper conversation. So, we established four-day week global in the 40-week Global Foundation, basically as a as an entity. Just to really have those conversations with. Mm hmm. And then halfway through next year, I last saw it last year, halfway through the exchanges my whole life. And halfway through last year, it just became clear that we couldn’t do all of this on our own. And so, we hired a CEO called Joe O’Connor, who’s an Irishman, who and he was leading for the main part, the campaign for a four-day week in Ireland. And he very kindly came over to us, and he’s based in New York and possibly soon moving to Toronto. And he’s then grown what we did into an entire organization. So, we now have six staff around the globe, and we run this great pilot programmed that people will now be familiar with and knowing that we are part of. And so and so we’ve got pilot programmed in Ireland, UK, US, Canada, Australasia are soon to be Europe and, and then also other parts of Asia in the Middle East, so sorry in South America. Not to forget Brazil and Chile and Peru. And so. So, so. So that’s kind of what we do. That’s where we are.

Jo Meunier [00:05:06] That’s amazing. And these pilots, how do they work in terms of, is it, do the companies continue to pay workers the same salary, but they effectively drop a working day? So, workers are trying to effectively cram five days into four?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:05:21] Well, we say crammed, but the reality is that so and so point number one, we talk really about reducing work time. Not all businesses can close their doors on a single day, and it just doesn’t work necessarily. And also having a whole day off doesn’t necessarily suit all of your staff. If you’re a working parent, having to being able to come in at 10:00 in the morning every day might suit you better. Yeah. So, we do encourage businesses to be flexible in terms of how they provide the time off. But what we have is what we call our 100 8000 rules. So, 100% pay 80% time, as long as a 100% productivity is achieved. Mm hmm. And so, and often people do go down the crammed way, you know, into how am I going to cram all of that into this time? But actually, what we get businesses to do is focus in on productivity. So don’t talk about busy but talk about what is productive. And that is, you know, frees the business up to truly look at why it exists and what business can do to help with that. And it might be just as simple as running meetings better, or it might be a better use of software or might be sort of redesigning the way that you production line works. There are all sorts of different things that people do to try and change the way that their business is productive and get rid of busyness. And, you know, back to the research that was there less than 3 hours a day for the UK. So, what are we doing for the other four and a half hours yet?

Jo Meunier [00:07:08] So it’s all about efficiency, really. It’s making it making better use of time.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:07:12] Yes. Yep. But it also being clear about why you’re there. What how are you using your time? Not just this use of time, but what are you using your time for? Mm hmm. You know, it’s easy, and I’ll use meetings as an example because it’s something that most people have an issue with. But obviously, there are no specific things for manufacturing or other types of meetings or access. I mean, how many times have you been to a meeting where you didn’t really feel like you needed to be there and on your desk? Is that report that you still need to finish? But you go, okay, well, I know this meeting and then I’ll do the report tonight after the kids have gone to bed. Well, why? Your job was to get the report done. And so often I challenge people when you’re at find yourself in that situation and you get invited along to a meeting is email the organizer and say do you really need me there? Because I’ve got a very important report that I need to do so.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:08:11] So if you don’t need me, I will do that and see how many meetings you get uninvited to this amazing get there. And then it’s also about making sure that you have an agenda. So, one of our people, he has a role. No agenda. No agenda. He won’t go for the meeting that the chamber is sticking to the agenda and sticking a stopping on time and finishing on time. And so, all of these are very simple time management things that we all know, but we don’t tend to use it with discipline in practice. Mm hmm. So, it’s about that I get a lot of managers who have issues when they go through the programmed. I love going to work now because they’re people are really happy. But the other thing that that they find is that because everyone’s clear about why they’re there, they can get their jobs done. Sure. And so, they come to the managers leaflets, often with questions or with the need for self-soothe. It’s a soothing and good. Yes, you’re doing a good job and you know, and they come they do better problem solving themselves. And so, they go to the managers. So often managers and leaders within a business that they’ve got a whole pile of extra time because if people are just getting on with doing their jobs. Mm. Yeah. Disrupting them. And I mean what manager doesn’t relate to that with, you know, people constantly knocking on their virtual door.

Jo Meunier [00:09:44] And it sounds to me that every, every business in the world could benefit from this approach, even if they don’t choose to go with the four-day week.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:09:54] Yeah, it’s a business improvement strategy. Now, the reason why it works is because if so, if you say to your staff, hey, guys, let’s, you know, I’d really like you to be more productive. And so, you don’t want to look at what you’re doing. And, you know, maybe look at this time in motion consultants. And, you know, we want to have a look at this. And I want to make the business more productive all at your staff here, as you want me to do more with less. And layoffs are on the way. Yes. But if you say to your staff, look, guys, if we can be more productive at work, I would like you guys to have more time. Mm hmm. And then I’m so motivated to find those things in your business that help the business be more productive. Because you’re going to give me the thing that I can use the most, and I can use it for family time.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:10:53] Looking after children or our aged relatives accused of being part of the community. I can use it for support and or health. I can use it for further education. I can use it as being part of civic duties. I mean, there’s just so many other things I can learn a new skill, a new language, you know, upskill, might for my job, upskill for a different job, get a side hustle. And yeah, but these are all things that, that, that I want to do that aren’t necessarily around making you more money, making me fuller. And there are a number of markets around the world I’m looking at. You’re the Americans where, you know, there’s this whole work ethic that you. Yeah, but we have this work ethic. We, you know, we think that you should work hard. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard. I’m just saying divide what we traditionally call work. So that’s being employed by somebody else as being work and then work at, being you? Yes, they still work. It’s just that it’s not the sort of thing that’s over here. And so, yeah, it’s about actually having a psychology around being a better person but having time for it is this whole world out there, you know, it’s about self-improvement and being a better person and all that. But the question is when, when?

Jo Meunier [00:12:18] When do you find time for it!?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:12:20] One time and some you know, and some organizations that we have, some one large multinational said to me, well, that’s all very well. And Charlotte pointed out that I know on average my people work 53 hours and I’m like, why wouldn’t you use the 100 80 100 principles to get them down to 40 hours? It’s not necessarily about getting down straight down to 30 or 32 hours. It’s actually putting work in its place. Mm hmm. And so, I have a line that I use when with all of our global leaders out there, and I share it with everybody and you and your programmed here. And that is we need to remember as leaders that we borrow our people from their lives.

Jo Meunier [00:13:11] I love that. Yes. It’s great.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:13:13] It’s about perspective. And there’s no wind. And what you’ll find when you do this programme is that your employees will really love being where they are. And you might have a really engaged workforce already. But when they become these are people outside of work site work, and they go do their own work. And then they actually become more rounded and more home. Mm hmm. And when we do that, we become basic problem solvers. We become happier at work. We do so many things that fill us up with people. We actually perform better at your workplace as a consequence of that. So, this is not a crazy oh, it’s just all our people go home. Like this is about how do you improve your business at this time when the great resignation and all of these of these other catchphrases that we have where, you know, stop. Have they? I have I have the right to control my money for the employers who give them the place that is going to allow them to work the way they want to work. And fortunately, as employers, we just have to wait before settling to catch up.

Jo Meunier [00:14:39] Yeah. And I can see the benefits for both sides, for the employees who gain a lot in terms of better work life balance and more time doing what they want to do. And for the business leaders who then get productivity, they get more motivated people working for them. But how do you when you’re approaching a CEO for the first time, how do you sell that idea to them? I’ve spoken to a few people about this four-day week, you know, the past few weeks, just trying to gauge perceptions. And there’s a real split. Some people are like, Yeah, it’s great, but others are quite suspicious, and you know, like you can’t possibly drop the whole working day. So how do you how do you promote so.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:15:19] So there are two things there. One. One is. So, if I if I came into your business, zero, I could increase productivity by a minimum of 20% in your business. And you would think I was selling you a software or something, and you’d probably give me a substantial chunk of change to do that. But when I say, well, I want to increase productivity by a minimum 20% in your business by sending your people home. I think you’re crazy. Yeah. So, it’s actually again, it’s all about perception. We’re actually going to improve your business when you are going to that you actually and your people are going to improve your business by doing this. So that’s point number one. But the thing with business leaders is that it’s this it’s so Henry Ford put in the five-day work week. And his business was also attributed to saying that whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you were right. And the business leaders that I work with the most are the ones that go, you know what? I can make that work. Or, you know what? I don’t know how I’m going to make that work, but I really like the idea. Tell me more. Let me work on how those the business leaders’ guy that will never work. A Henry Ford themselves. Mm hmm. Because they’re not agile enough in their thinking. You know? And I guess people go, oh, well, that would never work in law or never work in recruitment or never. And yet there are law firms, there are recruiters.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:16:49] I mean, recruiting. I got that the other day. It’ll never work in recruiting, except what’s one of the biggest industries of people that are doing that. Well, do they wait? So, it just comes down to the. The mental agility of the leadership’s mind. Mm hmm. Point number one. Point number two is that this is an employee led programme. So, what happens? People often ask me. So, tell me about the times when it has failed. It fails when the CEO and the C-suite try and solve all the problems around How are we going to do this from the C-suite? And they need to solve all of those problems first before running a pilot to find out how they might do all of it and leading their people solve it. And so, what we you know, when we’re talking about this, we’re not saying, right, one day you’re a five-day week business and then the next day you’re a four day or reduced hours business. It’s a process to get there, and that’s why we recommend people use a pilot programme. So, we, we spent about two months with a company getting them pilot ready before, before they go on the programme. And that’s about helping them attain to fly their missions and, and a few of the structural things. Plus, we also have global research that they plug into. So therefore, they know they can benchmark themselves against himself, that their own time, but also against others. And then then you run a pilot for six months or more if you want. No one says it has to be less, as I know this has to be more. Some companies want it to even be less. But you run a pilot and you try things, and I can often recommend trying to be out and we did a four-day week.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:18:36] We didn’t close the offices for a day. People took different days off through the week, but we kept that. People took a whole day off. What we ended up with is post pandemic because of course we were doing it before the pandemic. What we’ve ended up with, which I think is what a lot of companies are also moving to flexible, remote and reduced. And it’s about it’s about learning all of the fabulous things that we learnt with the pandemic. And I love the fact that everyone that government officials seem to think that sending the civil service back to the office is going to fix their productivity. Okay, I get the civil service. Productivity is probably not great with them working from home, but it wasn’t good performance, so I’m not entirely sure how is that actually them coming back to the office? Just anything, you know, you’ve got to look at how people work the beast and uses that is the thing and all of the wise businesses and the business leaders and the business leaders that want the best businesses, that’s what they’re all doing. And I’m sure a lot of your listeners hear this. The reason why they’re listening to your podcast is because they’re trying to find what is best practice. How can they how can they do things? But for us, working is coming. It’s a train. It’s on it’s already on the track. You can either be in the front and come in all the time mid-stream or following in the dust. It’s really strictly going to be entirely your choice. There’s no reason I talked about the fact that it’s, you know, it’s good for workers and it’s good for businesses, but it’s actually really good for our society as well.

Jo Meunier [00:20:26] Yeah.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:20:26] Now we all have parents that spend more time with their children. We will have grandparents that spend more time with their own children. Our elderly will get to spend more time. We will have skill which we all need to do the younger the young ones. Lisa They’re all taught at school that what they are learning now won’t be relevant in five years’ time, but how are they going to keep their skills current if they don’t have time. You know, will be fisher and healthier because this is the problem with not having enough time. It’s just too easy to pick up food on the way home because I’m short of time and I’m hungry. Yes. Who’s when I’m short on time and I’m hungry. I don’t make good choices. Well, how global in the in the developed world the pandemic of obesity. It’s reflecting that. Mm hmm. So, therefore, being able to have time to cook and or at least make better food choices, it’s going to be better for our health. The UK loses nearly 80 million workdays a year. To workplace stress and mental health. 18 million workdays. So, if we can reduce this down. One in four in the UK of our staff have a mental health or workplace stress problem. So, 25% of your population and your staff are not working to their capacity. Mm hmm. Yeah. So, we going to give them time to get on top of their and be able to see the future. And what’s the impact to the NHS and all those people?

Jo Meunier [00:22:17] And particularly straight after the pandemic. And is this why there’s such a big movement happening now? Is it the pandemic that has fueled this sort of newfound awakening, if you like, of this four-day workweek and the benefits it can have?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:22:33] Yeah, look, I think so. I mean, we were having some pretty serious conversations and we were supporting quite a few people shift over to a four-day week beforehand. But what they what the pandemic has created is one of the biggest problems prior to the pandemic was the whole how can I trust my people if I can’t see them? And actually, understanding what productivity is in the business because we’ve all gone home to work. A lot of businesses have had to solve some of those trust and some of those workplace conundrums because it was forced on them. So therefore, they’re already that little bit closer to being able to do this. And so, the pandemic has certainly changed it from that perspective, but it also has changed it from the whole great resignation where people are saying, I am, I want to work the way that I want to work. And if you can’t offer me that, then I’m going to go work for someone else. And if I’m at a job interview, they are how you doing a four-day week? What do you offer? Flexible and remote working is a question that the employees are asking now, and they’ll go work for someone else. That’s not going to give them what they want, what that wants. And it might also be that I want to work in an office where people do go to the office. I mean, so it’s about understanding and being agile in your leadership around how you provide that.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:24:00] And that’ll be what a lot of your listeners are confronting already. Find it really interesting that last summer Tim Cook said the CEO of Apple seemed to say to a lot of people, hey guys, when we go back to work, we’re going to just go in three days a week. And he got penned by his people. They had seen in letters going. So, we want to draw. And the interesting thing is, prior to the pandemic, if he’d said, hey, guys, how about we shift to this model where we only come in three days a week? They’d have probably thought he was a genius. But post-pandemic, they expect to be consulted. Yes, that’s the difference. And this I mentioned to each of your listeners this so be what they are. They’re working through how we hear this.

Jo Meunier [00:24:55] Time and again. Yeah, it’s about choice and flexibility.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:24:58] It is. And why wouldn’t you? You know, the reality is, when we start treating our staff like our business partners and actually consult with them, how can we make the business better? And they give you the answers to that. Then you know, it’s and I know, you know, sorry, any staff members are out there, but this is for the business leaders. I know that sometimes managing people feels like managing children, but we often treat them like children. We don’t give them autonomy. We don’t give them the ability to make decisions for themselves. We don’t give them, so we put them into that space. We create a culture that sees that we are that space and mummy and Daddy and the C-suite and everybody else in the kindergarten. So actually, how is it that we and this is where the successful businesses that are going, they’re going it’s a partnership. Staff don’t have a job without the leadership. Leadership don’t have a job without the staff. So yeah, I don’t see why it’s, it’s not combative. It’s actually partnership.

Jo Meunier [00:26:06] Yeah. And with them, with the work that you do at the four-day week global. What is your ultimate goal? What do you hope to achieve after this? I mean, you’re raising awareness. You’re doing so much of that. But is there, is there a percentage? Is that something that you want to reach?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:26:22] What do we want to get to the point where it will become it’ll become the normal way of working. And arguably, we will get to a point where government will legislate to change the way that we work. Okay. I don’t want to necessarily have the government to legislate it yet. Mm hmm. And there are pockets of legislation around the world for this. But the problem is governments not knowing, know and forgetting these things. Right. What we need from them is support so that the business community can find what’s right and economic, because we also don’t want something that’s going to be going into a recession. We know this. Right? It’s just the way that the economic cycle is called a cycle for a reason. Economic cycle works and we know that we will go into a recession. And so, it’s not about how businesses are losing money, or we don’t want businesses to lose money. We don’t want the economy to be impacted too greatly because we need the taxes to pay for all of the other bits and pieces. And so, you know, we live now in our world where there is this money that goes round that pays for the things that we need it. So, yes, so long term, over the next five years, I would like to see that we get to a point where so many businesses are doing reduced hours working that government goes, okay, let’s engage with what law change will look like.

Jo Meunier [00:27:57] Okay.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:27:58] I mean this in a moment. There are little bits of law that they could fix. Each country has its own sort of things that which get in the way of flexible and remote working being. And there’s some there’s some fixing that could be done. As far as is concerned. There is a shift over to gig we are pretty anti gig and our world we think that its gig is a way that workers’ rights just get completely disintermediated and it takes people down to zero hour contract. That isn’t healthy for society. And by reducing work time, we can do it a different way.

Jo Meunier [00:28:38] And for companies that are interested in perhaps taking part in a pilot themselves, or workers who might want to nominate their company to take part in a pilot, what should they do?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:28:48] What are the mechanics? We’ve got we’ve got also on our website, which is for day week dot com, the number for four-day week dot com. You can register for any of our pilots that we’ve got underway. And if we haven’t got one in your in your region, then we have them coming up. So just you just like we will do another UK one. We’re doing Europe next year. So just register for any of them and say where you are. The other thing we have is we have a how to persuade your boss. Oh, yes. And so, we run that. We run little webinars for people. So, if you want to persuade your boss, then go in there, click on and register for a how to persuade your boss. And that will give you all of the tools and the language to use. And one of the things that you need to discuss with your boss.

Jo Meunier [00:29:43] Fantastic. Well, just before just before we finish, can you give us a few pointers on how to persuade your boss to consider a four-day week?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:29:51] Well, so ultimately, your boss time forget has to is responsible for the profitability and the money side of it. So, you have to speak the language of money. You have to make sure that they know that it’s not going to affect productivity because you can sort of say work, it’ll make us all happy. But the end, you know, you might have a nice boss that that matters to you, but in the end, the shareholders require them to make money. So therefore, what you’re saying is if we do this programme and we can increase the productivity and profitability of the business, will you let us try it. Mm. And you don’t actually have to sell a whole four-day week or a whole and reduce 3 to 3 weeks. You just have to sell the idea of running a pilot. Mm. It’s a much lower barrier because then they can work it out and you know, and we have, as I say, this global academic research. So, they will have proper validated data to be able to present to the board at the end of it to be able to measure the success.

Jo Meunier [00:30:59] Fantastic. And with the pilots that are currently happening now, I know this one that’s just started here in the UK, it’s about a month, month into. And when do we when are you privy to some of the information on that? Are you able to find out the data and how it’s going so far?

Charlotte Lockhart [00:31:14] Well, we said once we get to, we look at the data again once we get into three months. Yeah. And then obviously again at the at the end of the six months. But what’s coming out of it is, is all of these usual stories around the fact that it’s the best thing that people have ever done, that the staff are really happy, that they’re finding all sorts of really quite clever things within their business that they hadn’t anticipated they’d be able to do. And one of the other pieces of advice that we hear time and time again is, well, it was easier than I thought. And that is, I think the thing it realistically it is that there’s a woman that runs a chain of restaurants in Spain, in Madrid, and she runs through businesses on a four-day week. And that is the piece of advice that she sees. And you bounce mentioned in a speech and she goes, wow, that is just so that piece of advice. She said, I’m going to use that all the time. It is easier than you think.

Jo Meunier [00:32:16] That is fantastic. And what a way to finish. We are just about at the end of our episode. I still have a ton of questions to ask you, so hopefully we got through as much as we could. But thank you so much, Charlotte, for coming on and talking to us today about the four-day week. And so, go to the website and if any of our listeners want to contact you directly, should they continue on LinkedIn or through the Web? Yes.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:32:38] Well, on my email address is on the website, but they are also very, very welcome to contact me on LinkedIn.

Jo Meunier [00:32:45] Fantastic. Well, that is great. Thank you, so much and safe travels, back to New Zealand and we hope to chat with you again soon.

Charlotte Lockhart [00:32:51] Absolutely.

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