Here at Key Focus Consulting, we’ve been trialling a 4-day work week with some of our staff. Here’s the consensus of how they (and we) have found the change so far.
How did it start?
First, we’ll address why we and many other businesses are beginning to try out the waters of non-traditional work weeks.
Even before the events of 2020, there have been rumblings in some countries – including Norway and Scotland to name two – that a 4-day work week is the next step in a world where increasing automation means that people simply don’t have to work as much anymore.
Then, during the pandemic some people were fully furloughed, whilst others were placed on reduced schedules. Those on these less intense schedules quickly saw many benefits, while their bosses didn’t see the same loss in productivity they might otherwise have expected.
This led many companies, including Key Focus, to experiment with the concept of implementing 4-day work weeks permanently.
For those of us who have been testing out the reduced schedule, it goes much farther than popping another day onto the weekend. While, yes, an extra day off work every week is great in the ways one would expect, the fact that it’s a weekday makes so many things so much easier. Errands become much simpler to run, and it’s always nice to be assured that one of your days off won’t be marred by a hangover.
In particular, our staff have been using the time to work on creative projects that they otherwise simply would not have the time to do.
“We believe the 4 days allow them to get enough done […] and the data backs it up, too. Month on month we are becoming a better business.”
– Matt Sedgwick, CEO & Founder, Key Focus Consulting
Burning Brighter and Longer
We’ve all had the feeling of looking at the clock on Sunday evening and wondering: where the hell did the weekend go? This feeling carries over into Monday, where you feel as if you barely had any rest and recuperation time at all. Unsurprisingly, this pattern leads to burnout pretty damn quickly.
On a 4-day work week, we’ve found that the end-of-weekend anxiety (or the ‘Sunday Scaries’ as some call it) is either greatly reduced or dissolved entirely. This results in higher morale (and, by extension, productivity) throughout the week, and we’ve noticed that we’ve been taking far less holiday. When every weekend is a bank holiday weekend, burnout is a long way away.
A Word from Our CEO & Founder, Matt Sedgwick
“Realistically, when I think about a working week I think of long hours, hard work and minimal time off. But why? Our thought process around our working lifestyle is very much a learned behaviour. We have been programmed to fall in line when it comes to when (and where) to work. Like when you’re watching TV and the budding solicitor finds their much-needed answer to their case at silly ‘o clock in the morning. The horrible videos that show someone up at 5am (Are you not a part of the 5am club?), hitting the gym and going to work for 7am.
We know it’s all bullshit in today’s world. It’s just taking a while for everyone to catch on.
So, what are we doing to get the most out of our working week? Well, different people have different days they work, but their working week on the most part is 4 days. Their hours are still 9 – 6, but if they have good reason they can work when they want to. It’s only that most of our clients are 9-6, so we mirror them.
The result? Well, in short, it’s excellent. We focus on inputs, we have manageable targets and we do regular health checks to make sure we are efficient, but most of all effective. We worry less about if they are ‘in’ at the crack of dawn on Monday and more on their impact. We believe the 4 days allow them to get enough done (don’t lie to yourself – you know what takes you five days, you could do in four. Probably three if you managed yourself more effectively) and the data backs it up, too. Month on month we are becoming a better business.
Did I panic? Naturally; no one really likes the unknown. What if they didn’t work hard in the 4 days? What if they felt that they could do it in 3? What if people got super drunk on their extra day and then became ineffective? All this surged through my head, making my eyes water. But realistically, the opposite was the case every time. People want to work here, so when they are here, they work. We wouldn’t hire them if we didn’t trust them…”
Time OR Money
Moving forward, we’ve decided to implement an initiative with new team members wherein after their first six months with the business, we offer them either a discretionary bonus or a 4-day work week for the next six months. We’ll then repeat this every six months, giving each employee the choice. We believe that this will allow our team the freedom to prioritise their time or their money, whichever resource is more valuable to them at that part in their life.
Perhaps someone’s about to have a baby, and they really need that extra money. Then, after the baby’s born, they’ll take the 4-day work week so that they can be of more help to their partner at home. Or, maybe they just want to save up for – and then have more time to play on – a new VR games console.
While the initial idea of losing your workers for 20% of the working week while paying them the same seems like an incredible risk, the rewards flood in quickly and consistently. Employee morale, productivity – not to mention retention and Employer Value Proposition – make this decision, in our opinion, well worth the leap.
Take it With You
No time to read now, or want to have it to refer to later? Download the PDF here!