(Expansión) – At the beginning of September of this year, Senator Ricardo Velázquez Meza presented before the Permanent Commission of the Senate of the Republic a proposal whose approval would imply reforming article 61 of the Federal Labor Law (LFT), since it implies the reduction from the working day to six hours a day or 36 a week.
Although in some sectors they were not enthusiastic about the proposal, similar initiatives have been implemented in other countries, such as France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland or Denmark, which fulfill between 29 and 35 hours of work per week. On the other hand, Mexico is among the countries with the most hours worked and the lowest productivity.
Although the proposal is already in Congress, there is still a long way to go before reaching a reform law. In the meantime, it would be worthwhile to analyze the possibilities within the companies to start making important changes that impact not only productivity, but also the benefit of the workers.
On the one hand, it is about applying the lessons learned from the pandemic: the general managements realized that in some types of companies fixed hours are not essential, that they can be made more flexible or that work focused on results can lead to higher productivity.
On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that these initiatives arose from the experimentation of the companies before becoming public policies. In Japan, in 2019, Microsoft offered its employees the possibility of working four days a week for a month, with their salary intact. The results: a 40% increase in sales and a considerable reduction in electricity and paper consumption. Other examples are Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand, Delson in Spain and Signifyd in the United States.
Currently, companies in Mexico are more aware of the quality of life of the working class and are committed to modifying their policies through schemes such as the home office and hybrid models to retain talent. In my opinion, maintaining an eight-hour workday for four days would give better results than the proposed workday. You have to think that Mexico has a particularity that in other countries that have successfully implemented this change, people live differently: the transfer times are very long.
Therefore, I think that it would be better to avoid a full day of transfers, eliminating the challenges and contingencies that arise as a result. This would also help to have a three-day weekend, which promotes consumption, reactivates the local economy and increases GDP.
What can be done from the companies?
Companies have the opportunity to take on this challenge and, with the right tools, have successful experiences that not only promote staff productivity, but also seek their well-being, which will result in a social benefit. Here are four keys to achieving it:
1. Management must lead the change. It is essential that the people at the head of the company understand the roles and scope of the areas and positions that will have changes. In this way, they can reorganize activities to optimize work time.
2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. If everything is urgent, nothing is really urgent. Ordering activities according to their level of importance or urgency can make all the difference in your day-to-day work. Good communication between areas and leaders allows clarity in activities and makes prioritization an easier task.
3. Automation. Technology is a great ally to optimize time and increase productivity. Analyze which repetitive tasks can be automated and, in this way, eliminate tedious activities that take time from the organization.
4. Incentives. Change can always bring a learning curve, more or less long for each person. To the extent that it is possible for the company, the transition can be facilitated with economic or other incentives, more valuable for each position, such as rest days or home office .
Editor’s note: Enrique Caamaño Coca is CEO of BC&B. Follow him on . The opinions published in this column correspond exclusively to the author.