Emily Westbrooks, Author at Blog Wrike | Page 5 of 56
Please enter your email
Server error. We're really sorry. Wait a few minutes and try again.
Emily Westbrooks

Emily Westbrooks

Emily Westbrooks is a Content Marketing Manager at Wrike. She brings over a decade of experience as a freelance journalist, editor, blogger, and author to the Wrike blog, where she writes about the latest trends in work management, what’s on the horizon for the future of work, and how work and life intersect in meaningful ways. Emily joined Wrike in 2020 at our Dublin office, and relocated to Houston, Texas, in 2022 with her husband and kids, Maya, Noah, Angelina, and Laylabelle. After spending over a decade in rainy Ireland, she enjoys being outside in the sunshine with her family as much as possible — hiking, running, walking, and swimming.
The 4-Day Workweek: Exploring Alternatives for the Future of Work
Productivity 7 min read

The 4-Day Workweek: Exploring Alternatives for the Future of Work

The pandemic turned the working world upside down more than many workplace experts could have predicted. Millions of workers left their office desks to work from home offices — or the dinner table — which certainly wasn’t an anticipated outcome for the workplace in 2020 — or 2021, for that matter.  So, if the workplace can make a major shift toward remote work in the face of pandemic, it could also be possible to explore alternatives for the future of work in the form of the 4-day workweek,  While the 4-day workweek might sound like a workplace utopia, a handful of countries and a selection of companies around the world have already trialed or implemented this alternative work style. So, what are the challenges and advantages of a 4-day workweek and how are institutions making it work in the face of our ever-evolving modern work culture. What is the 4-day work week?  The 4-day workweek is just what it sounds like: instead of working five eight-hour days each week, from Monday to Friday, employees work just four days.  There are two 4-day workweek schedule examples that have been put into practice: In some cases, workers are still on the clock for a 40-hour workweek, but this is condensed into four ten-hour days. In other cases, a 4-day workweek consists of 32 hours, “where employees simply work one less day out of the week without making up the difference in hours.”  Historical precedent of the 5-day work week While the 4-day workweek might sound like an extreme departure from the five-day week that has been the norm for as long as most workers can remember, it actually wasn’t that long ago that employees were expected to work six days each week. According to The Atlantic, the earliest recorded use of the word weekend was in 1879, and referred to a break from work between Saturday evening and Monday morning.  In 1908, employers in a New England mill began giving workers both Saturday and Sunday off, so that Jewish workers could observe the Saturday sabbath. Per the Atlantic: “The Great Depression cemented the two-day weekend into the economy, as shorter hours were considered a remedy to underemployment,” and we’ve been living with this five-day workweek for about 100 years.  In fact, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that, by now, workers would be making such high incomes that they would only have to work 15-hour weeks. James Suzman, in an interview with Ezra Klein, explained, “He predicted that the combination between capital growth, improvements in productivity, and advances in technology, that nobody would be working more than 15 hours in a week.”  According to Suzman, the reason we do not work 15-hour weeks is because workers are in the habit of working 40-hour (or more) workweeks and because our wants have grown over time, necessitating longer working hours to pay for them.  Polls and experience have actually shown that those who work 40-hour workweeks aren’t necessarily producing more than they would in a 32-hour workweek, which is why countries and companies have begun to experiment with 4-day working weeks.  For example, between 1998 and 2000, French lawmakers created rules that brought the French workweek down to 35 hours, meaning that any hours worked over 35 would then be entitled to overtime pay. Iceland trialled a 4-day workweek for many employees between 2015 and 2019, and it was so successful that 85% of employees now work a 4-day week. 4-day workweek example In a key 4-day workweek example, a New Zealand company with 240 employees instituted a 4-day workweek in 2018, where employees were expected to work 32 hours and received the same pay. According to The New York Times, researchers found that employees were able to complete the same amount of work in four days that they were previously doing in five. Additionally, a quarter of employees found they were able to manage their work-life balance more effectively, and stress decreased while work satisfaction increased across all employees.  With the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers around the world are paying renewed attention to flexible and alternative working styles because of how workplaces shifted to accommodate their employees in the face of the threat of contagious disease. Many employers and employees alike have realized that productivity is not necessarily tied to the office or to working between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. 4-day workweek pros and cons While Iceland and France have successfully cut down on workweek hours for employees, what are the pros and cons of implementing a 4-day workweek?  Pros of the 4-day workweek First, the benefits of a 4-day workweek, from increased productivity to a lower carbon footprint:  Increased productivity: A 4-day workweek has been shown to maintain productivity levels when compared with a 5-day workweek. In Japan, Microsoft trialled a 4-day workweek throughout the summer of 2019 and found that productivity actually increased by 40% compared with the summer of 2018.  More balanced gender equality: A 4-day workweek can also increase gender equality, because it allows women to stay on more equal footing with male employees. The World Economic Forum explained that women with children could certainly benefit from the 4-day workweek. “​​Women at the company who have children will be free to spend one day a week with them and, crucially, remain on the same footing as the rest of their colleagues.” Increased employee engagement: Employee engagement has been shown to increase when a company undertakes a shift to a 4-day workweek. Because there is less time in the office so in order to complete their work, employees focus more than they would be able to during a 40-hour week.”   Lower carbon footprint: Finally, if employees cut a full day of commuting from their schedule every week, the company’s overall carbon footprint is reduced. However, for employees who work remotely and therefore no longer commute, this benefit will be lessened. Cons of the 4-day workweek Now, the disadvantages of a 4-day workweek:  Requires coverage for customer-facing roles: Companies need to be aware that customers might not be on board with a shift to a 4-day workweek, especially if you are providing a service that needs customer support. Companies have mitigated this problem, however, by ensuring there is a shift of employees available to cover customer queries throughout the traditional 5-day week.  Requires an understanding of goals: When employers and employees undertake a 4-day work week, the goals need to be clear. The 4-day workweek isn’t simply a 5-day work week squeezed into four days, unless the schedule adjusts to include four 10-hour days. If employees are expected to cram more work into less time, stress levels will increase and productivity will decrease.   Requires better planning: A 4-day work week requires more planning in order to successfully shift from a 5-day workweek. Meetings need to be scheduled across four days instead of five, and PTO requests will need to be managed accordingly.  Requires cutting out workplace chat: Cutting the workweek by eight hours necessitates removing as much unfocused time as possible from an employee’s daily life, meaning there might be less time for chit chat at the office than there was previously. Countries trying or considering a 4-day workweek A handful of countries have brought in a 4-day work week already, clearly believing the pros outweigh the cons. As previously mentioned, Iceland had such a positive experience in trialing the 4-day work week that 85% of their workers now use this schedule. Spain announced in March 2021 that they would commit to three years of employees working a 32-hour workweek without having a cut in their compensation. The government has committed to making up the difference for companies that want to participate.  In August 2021, U.S. House representative Mark Takano (D-CA) put forward the Thirty-Two Hour Work Week Bill in an effort to readjust American work-life balance. The bill would make all work over 32 hours for American employees subject to overtime pay. Meanwhile, in Ireland, Dublin City Council has backed a pilot program trial of the 4-day week.  Companies trying a 4-day workweek And it’s not just countries that are trialing four-day workweeks, there are some companies pioneering this schedule as well. Kickstarter recently announced that it would introduce a 4-day workweek for its employees beginning in 2022. Social media software company Buffer began experimenting with the 4-day workweek in 2020, and the New Zealand arm of Unilever has been trialing the 4-day workweek for its employees throughout 2021.  Clearly, companies have taken on board one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic: that work and life need to be in balance in order to have productive, satisfied, and content employees. The 4-day workweek is another way companies could reach their business goals while helping employees thrive. 

7 Ways Employers Can Support Working Parents, Including Childcare and Hybrid Working
Productivity 7 min read

7 Ways Employers Can Support Working Parents, Including Childcare and Hybrid Working

Being a working parent has always come with challenges: time spent working in an office is time spent away from raising children. If you get called into a meeting, you might have to skip your child’s drama performance; if you have to work late, you might miss tucking your kid in before bed. As we ease out of the pandemic, now is the time to consider ways employers can support working parents better. As women began entering the workforce generations ago, children often became ‘latchkey’ kids from a fairly young age if one of their parents wasn’t able to take care of them before returning from work. In recent times, though, parents have relied heavily on daycare, grandparents and relatives, after-school programs or sports, or full-time nannies to take care of children while they work.  Before the pandemic, most working parents were expected to be in an office full-time. This meant that many parents had to coordinate dropping kids to school, bringing them to doctor’s appointments, cheering them on at the soccer field, or watching them in the school play — all while making it to the office on time. For parents who needed to commute, kids might be dropped to daycare at the crack of dawn and not picked up until suppertime.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in flexibility for many working parents, thanks in large part to the rise of hybrid working. Many working parents are now able to drop their kids to school or make it to performances or appointments because flexible remote working has become normalized.  However, hybrid working isn’t a solution in itself. Workplaces and employers need to support working parents in a more holistic fashion, from offering childcare subsidies as an employee benefit to creating programs that help employees feel a stronger sense of belonging at work. What does the current childcare landscape look like for working parents?  Before the pandemic caused a seismic shift in the way we work, finding, scheduling, organizing, and even affording suitable childcare was difficult for many working parents. If kids were sick or a childcare worker didn’t show, parents were left trying to pick up the pieces — and still make it to the office.  With the pandemic-induced shift to remote working, previous childcare conundrums paled in comparison to working at home with no childcare at all. Many parents were expected to keep productivity up while somehow overseeing remote learning for multiple children and keeping them occupied throughout the day without so much as a playdate.  Needless to say, that situation was untenable for many working parents, leading 40% of working parents to make changes to their jobs and 17% of women to leave work altogether. The attrition due to the pressures on working mothers in the COVID-19 era isn’t over, though, because according to a study on Women in the Workplace by McKinsey, “as many as two million women are considering leaving the workforce.” Why should bringing women back into the workforce matter for businesses?  Getting women back into the workforce is key to a strong economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh. “We need to make sure if we're going to have a strong recovery — a strong, equitable recovery — we need to get women back into the workforce,” Walsh explained. Walsh further commented that childcare remains a  critical factor in ensuring that women can indeed return to the workforce and affect change in the greater economy.  As offices reopen and working parents are making decisions about how they plan to return post-pandemic, many parents favor hybrid working to accommodate their needs in taking care of their children. In a study of 1,000 randomly selected working parents in the UK, “76% of all mothers and 73% of fathers surveyed wanted to work flexibly to spend more time with children.” Only 16% of those surveyed expressed an interest in working from the office full-time, due to the flexibility that the hybrid model provides for working parents.  What can businesses do to help parents in the workplace? Workplaces have clear incentives to actively help working parents, in particular working mothers — both to create a diverse employee panel and to contribute to the overall economic recovery. As offices reopen and employers look to attract and retain highly skilled talent, here are some initiatives they can undertake to assist working parents.   Offer hybrid working options: Hybrid working options give parents the flexibility to drop kids to school and daycare, pick them up, or take care of children who are sick. Hybrid working also eliminates commuting time for working parents on the days they work remotely, giving them additional time with their families. Wrike, as a Citrix company, has offered employees the option to avail of their choice of full-time office, full-time remote, or hybrid working scenarios. Create programs for employees that enhance their sense of belonging in the workplace: Working parents can often feel isolated as employees, struggling with responsibilities that they aren’t typically encouraged to share with others. Programs like a company parents group chat or coffee chat on Zoom can create a stronger attachment to the workplace, making it more likely that those employees will continue their employment at their company.  Provide a childcare subsidy to employees: Just like healthcare has become an important item in a list of company benefits, childcare subsidies are likely to become increasingly enticing to potential and current employees who have children or are considering having children in the future.  Offer on-site childcare options: Large companies sometimes have the ability to provide on-site childcare to their employees in an effort to lessen the burden on working parents who might otherwise not be able to see their children for many hours at a time. On-site childcare options mean that employees are able to see their children during their lunch breaks and commute with them rather than only see them when they pick them up from daycare.  Help employees access employee assistance programs: Company employee assistance programs (EAPs) are often designed to help employees with tricky issues such as finding childcare or a realtor. However, some EAPs aren’t exactly user-friendly, and busy working parents might find them difficult to access. Helping employees access the help in EAPs can increase the rate at which they’re utilized.  Encourage all employees to maximize work-life balance: Some benefits may carry a stigma that keeps working parents from taking advantage of them. For instance, encouraging all employees (not just parents) to use all of their vacation days will de-stigmatize that practice and help working parents spend more time with their families. Likewise, encouraging all employees to avail of flexible scheduling or hybrid working will reassure working parents that this benefit isn’t frowned upon.  Create a parent support forum: Providing opportunities for parents to support each other is a free way of assisting working parents. Employers can create a forum where parents can share babysitter or daycare recommendations (if many employees are in the same geographic area) or offer hand-me-downs to fellow team members when their children outgrow them.  Employers can and should support working parents as the global workforce eases slowly out of the pandemic into what will be the new normal. Elements that were incorporated into daily work during the pandemic, like remote and hybrid working options as well as robust employee assistance programs, can continue to help ease the burden on working moms and dads in the future. These kinds of improvements to the workplace will help increase the likelihood that parents will be able to continue to thrive in their employment as well as at home. 

Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace After the Pandemic
Leadership 7 min read

Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace After the Pandemic

For some employees, returning to work feels like an important step toward regaining pre-pandemic normality. However, for others, returning to the office after an extremely stressful and/or traumatic 18 months will be daunting. While employers can’t turn back the clock for their employees, they can and should offer options, strategies, and benefits that will aid their employees’ mental health and wellness.  The effects of the pandemic in the workplace Every worker has experienced the effects of an increased and sustained level of uncertainty and fear over the course of the pandemic. Some employees experienced even more extreme versions of mental health stress. For example, many people cared for or lost loved ones and friends to COVID-19. Others worked from home under difficult circumstances or while also managing at-home learning for their children. Some worked without adequate childcare for small children or kids with additional needs. Employees may have had family members lose work during the pandemic, adding financial strain to an otherwise trying time.  COVID-19 also interrupted treatments for chronic illnesses or mental health or substance use disorders. In fact, according to research from McKinsey, the pandemic actually “placed broader segments of the population at risk for developing conditions such as depression, anxiety, alcohol use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.” Restrictions on medical appointments may also have kept some people from seeking help for these types of mental health-related issues. Why promote mental health in the workplace Many employees returning to the office have had their mental health impacted either mildly or severely over the past year and a half — and it's important for employers to keep these extenuating circumstances in mind. Even mild additional stress can take its toll on employees and make them less resilient in the face of changing circumstances and less able to cope with stress in the workplace.  In the past, it was common for employers to concern themselves only with employees in a working capacity, leaving workers to deal with their health and wellbeing on their own. However, it is becoming more common for employers to take an interest in their employees’ general wellbeing, as this impacts their ability to work productively.  The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Increasingly, employers are taking it upon themselves to help build up employees’ mental health to create a more holistic workplace.  The benefits of good mental health and wellbeing for employees are fairly obvious and critically important, but there are benefits to employers as well. Focusing on mental health in the workplace creates resilient employees that can deal with reasonable adversity, disruption, and stress. Employees with optimal mental health are able to focus better and be more productive in the workplace.  Creating a workplace that helps sustain good mental health and wellbeing, while being flexible enough to help employees cope with any issues that crop up, is good business in the long term. How to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace Here are 10 ways employers can help lessen the impact of mental health issues as employees return to work.  Communicate upcoming changes: The sustained stress of the pandemic has impacted employees’ abilities to deal with change.  Offering earlier notice of changing work schedules, return to work procedures, or office routines will allow employees to prepare. Promote return-to-work safety (link to ultimate guide to return to work checklist): Many employees may not have been in close proximity to others for a long time and may be anxious about staying safe in the office. Knowing that their employer is focusing on their safety can lessen these fears.  Create flexibility for scheduling and leave requests: For example, you could offer flexibility for employees to work from home if they need to deal with other elements of their lives (like children, pets, or appointments) or provide leave to employees facing mental health struggles. This will give them the space they need to recover and return to work more quickly. Employees who don’t have this flexibility can end up burnt out and require even more time to return to full productivity.  Encourage employees to take advantage of employee assistance programs: Many employers offer employee assistance programs that are designed to help workers resolve problems that may impact their ability to work. They are typically programs that assist employees with alcohol or substance abuse, child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, and traumatic events.  Normalize conversations about mental health in the workplace: Mental health struggles used to be taboo topics in the workplace, but the pandemic brought many of these issues to the forefront. Normalizing the discussion of mental health and wellbeing in the office can destigmatize the topic and ensure employees seek help sooner. Check in on your employees more often: Many workplaces check in on employees annually, typically by issuing a survey on wellbeing. Managers should instead check in with team members more regularly to get a better understanding of the issues they are dealing with outside the office. Offer counseling as part of standard health benefits: Many employers are beginning to offer counseling as a standard part of employee benefits. This shift reflects the changing place mental health now takes in workplace priorities.  Develop an internal mentorship program: Internal mentorship programs can help mentees feel more supported and connected in the workplace, and mentors feel affirmed and fulfilled as they pass along new skills. Fostering stronger connections in the office can create resilience in employees. Create robust wellness programs: Wellness programs can help build coping mechanisms that can in turn increase employees’ capacity to deal with negative situations in the workplace and at home. These are most effective if they create an impact in employees’ lives, like teaching financial wellness or building a meditation habit. Consider soft-launching your return to work schedule (link to Brandon’s blog post): Instead of scheduling all employees to return to work full-time on the same day, soft-launching the return to work can help employees ease back into office life at an easier pace.  As employees return to the office in earnest in the coming months, employers have the opportunity to offer more robust support that can mitigate some of the effects of the stressful pandemic era and help employees recover from the trauma of the COVID-19 era.  Employers who encourage employees to focus on their mental health will see marked benefits in the long run, fostering a more resilient workforce better equipped to manage future disruptions and uncertainty.

The Five Antidotes for Toxic Productivity
Productivity 7 min read

The Five Antidotes for Toxic Productivity

Toxic productivity is the desire to be productive at all times, at the expense of other priorities. Find out the signs of toxic productivity and how to combat it.

How to Know Which Way of Working is Right For You (Infographic)
Remote Working 3 min read

How to Know Which Way of Working is Right For You (Infographic)

The Covid-19 pandemic forced a record number of offices to send their employees into remote working, but as the number of people vaccinated is increasing, offices are reopening and many employees are now faced with a difficult choice. Should they continue to work remotely, return to the office a few days each week, or return to the office full-time?  If your employer has given you the option to choose, here’s how to know which way to work is right for you. 

How to Ask Your Employer to Work Remotely Post-Pandemic
Remote Working 7 min read

How to Ask Your Employer to Work Remotely Post-Pandemic

It’s difficult to believe that remote work has become a household name in just a matter of two years. Pre-pandemic, only 17% of employees took advantage of remote working, but COVID-19 caused that number to jump to 44% as 16 million knowledge workers packed up their desks in a hurry in March of 2020. Now that vaccinations are on the rise across the United States, offices around the country are reopening. While the return to normal office life might appeal to some employees, others are eyeing the future of remote working and wondering how to ask employers to work remotely post-pandemic.  Requesting to work remotely pre-pandemic used to involve in-depth research into how that could work. Employees used to have to convince employers to take a significant risk in letting them work remotely because remote work was largely uncharted territory. Now, it’s more appealing to a larger swathe of workers and more trusted by employers as a reasonable way to work.  Not all employees want to continue to work remotely. Some found remote work challenges untenable, like social isolation, juggling children engaged in at-home learning, or sharing a space with roommates. However, for many, the advantages of remote work far outstripped the drawbacks, causing them to pursue a future of remote working. Prerequisites for successful remote working If you’re currently wondering how to ask your employer to work remotely post-pandemic, this set of tips will help direct your steps toward full-time remote work.  There are several prerequisites you should consider before asking your employer to stay remote post-pandemic:  Asking your employer to work remotely typically requires that you’re an employee in good standing, as working remotely necessitates a higher level of trust than those working in an office setting.  If you were able to perform your duties well while working from home during the pandemic, you’ll have a greater chance of a positive response.  You’re committed to working remotely in the future. If your employer gives you the opportunity to work remotely, you might not have a desk to return to should you change your mind later.  You have a suitable remote working set-up, whether at home or a co-working space. Remote working requires a space that’s suitable for completing your work each day, including a reliable internet connection and a quiet space for making phone calls or engaging in deep work.  Your job doesn’t require daily in-person interaction, such as a retail or service role. If your duties require you to be physically in your place of work, your employer likely won’t be able to accommodate a remote work request.  If you believe you and your workplace satisfy these prerequisites, you’re ready to request remote working post-pandemic.  How to ask your boss to work remotely in the future These recommendations should help you determine a plan for requesting remote work from your employer:  Request a meeting with your boss: Changes to the way you do your job shouldn’t be undertaken via email or internal instant messaging like Slack. Instead, ask your boss if it’s possible to schedule a meeting to discuss potential ways to improve the way you work. Come prepared to actively request remote work and make your case. Prepare information beforehand: Preparation is your best offense in this situation. You’ll want to outline the reasons you believe remote work will suit you and your ability to do your role. You can either send this information to your boss beforehand or discuss it with them during the meeting — sending it ahead of time might give your boss more time to digest it rather than receiving it on the spot. Start with the following: Highlight how you working remotely will benefit the company Outline your job functions and how they can be better performed remotely List ways remote work will increase productivity for your particular situation, including the possibility of undertaking deep work without distraction Address any potential concerns your employer might have and offer solutions Be ready to address certain objections: If you can, prepare for your boss to raise objections. The following are worth considering before you meet with your boss: If your boss is concerned that you won’t be reachable when needed, you can outline your specific working hours and digital communication tools that can help you stay reachable during work hours. If they feel that your job can’t be done remotely, highlight each function of your role and explain how they can be done from home. If they fear you will be less productive when working remotely, you can bring up previous productivity during the pandemic. Propose plans for keeping your employer apprised of your progress at regular intervals.  Propose a hybrid work compromise or remote work trial  If your employer isn’t completely sold on the idea of you continuing to work remotely, you can propose a hybrid work schedule that meshes with your team work methods. If you know that your team meets monthly at a certain day or time, proposing a specific schedule that allows you to join your team and contribute in person might be more amenable to your boss.  Likewise, suggesting a trial run of working remotely for a period of a few weeks or a month can be a good way to determine whether this set-up will work for both employee and employer. A trial run can also be helpful as employers try to allocate office space moving forward with the future of remote work in mind. It’s important to remember that if you choose to work remotely, there may not be a desk waiting for you if you change your mind.  Use Wrike to keep remote work on track Wrike offers remote working solutions to keep employees connected and collaborating, wherever they’re based. Thanks to instant @mentions and real-time commenting, employers and employees can keep in touch and monitor progress. Automated requests cut out constant check-in emails, while custom reports enable employers to track their team’s progress anytime. Try Wrike for free today, and let our collaborative work management software drive you into the future of remote work.

WFH vs. Hybrid Working vs. Office Full-Time: How To Know Which Approach Works Best for You
Remote Working 10 min read

WFH vs. Hybrid Working vs. Office Full-Time: How To Know Which Approach Works Best for You

It’s time to decide whether a traditional office, working from home, or a hybrid office is the best path for you. Here’s how to choose your future of work.

Always On: How Work-Life Balance Is Disappearing (And What To Do About It)
Collaboration 7 min read

Always On: How Work-Life Balance Is Disappearing (And What To Do About It)

Are you feeling increasingly pressured into being "always on" at work, while your work-life balance disappears? Here’s how to tip the scales back in your favor.

;