This summer, my gracious employer has given us a bit of time off on Fridays. Between Memorial and Labor Day, we may clock out at 2 p.m. to begin our weekends. It’s a nice perk and has helped me enjoy my days off even more.
A flexible work schedule is the dream for every worker. Our lives have shifted so much in the past couple of years, and most of us are examining our work-life balance and are dedicated to improving it. Fortunately, many employers are as well. We’ve embraced “casual” attire Friday for a while now, and long lunches, early departures and a ban on afternoon meetings are also becoming the norm on the last day of the work week.
Another concept that has floated around for a while that might actually stick this time is the four-day work week. In June, 70 U.K. companies launched a pilot program to explore whether it’s feasible for companies and their workers to get it all done in just four days. The six-month plan includes 3,000-plus employees, who’ll receive 100% of their pay but work one less day each week. They’re expected to maintain their productivity as if they still logged the extra day. Of course, there are numerous challenges to this, but the idea has merit and could be worth pursuing for many companies, including in the self-storage industry.
Here's why it could work. Storage operators now rely heavily on technology to automate so many tasks, from move-ins and -outs to collection calls to taking payments. Not only has contactless storage really taken off, some operators are also embracing the unattended model and running their sites remotely.
Having someone on site 40 hours or even five days each week might not always be necessary. It would greatly depend on the facility’s location, size and other factors including available staff, but more operators now recognize their staffing needs are changing. There are many managers who oversee more than one site, spending time at each during the week. Others will meet a new tenant by appointment at the facility to execute a new lease. There are also maintenance tasks to consider if an operator is reducing the number of hours spent at the property. Then there are some duties that can be done from anywhere—processing payments, collection and sales calls, marketing. Remote management has even made it easier for storage operators to oversee their facilities in real time.
Another modification in way we work that has really taken off, mainly due to the pandemic, is working from home (WFH). Although it’s hardly a new concept, it’s becoming more acceptable as technology enables employers and staff to easily touch base via video conference calls, chat functions, document sharing and other clever ways that help us connect.
Not too long ago, WFH had a negative vibe attached. Some employers believed staff would become distracted—or even lazy—when logging in from the comfort of their home office (or kitchen for those new to it). But years of this model proving successful has led more businesses to consider if not embrace it, and more workers are seeking employers who offer it.
Some companies new to WFH are trying it on by taking a hybrid approach. Employees are expected to be in the office for all or part of select days, then can WFH during the remaining time. The move is to both appease employees who enjoy ditching the commute and working in their lounge pants but still allows the creative connections employers crave.
Of course, not every position can be performed in a remote setting. Industry professionals who aren’t tied to a property—suppliers and vendors, management companies, call centers and others—are in a better position to make this concept work. Moreover, some people thrive better when working in a structured environment.
The WFH model comes with some challenges, though, particularly in self-storage as it’s a newer concept for this industry. This includes having the necessary technology to make it work seamlessly, but also human resources and even legal consideration.
How has your work week and environment changed? I’m seeking sources for an upcoming article that explores this topic. If you’d like to share your thoughts on alternative work schedules, WFH and other ways the industry is adapting, email me at [email protected]. I hope to hear from you!