The 4-day working week is something that has become ever more popular over the last few years. In the UK there was a 6-month pilot scheme between June and November 2022 with over 70 businesses signing up to trial a 4-day working week for their business with the majority of them making it a permanent thing.
The decision for Success Local to trial a 4-day working week was to challenge ourselves and see if we could benefit from doing 100% of the work in 80% of the time with the help of the University of Sussex who were running a study on the effect of employees working a 4-day week.
In this blog post, I’m going to be delving into what a 4-day working week is and what benefits it has for both employees and employers, along with sharing our own experience throughout the experience, what the challenges were that we faced and what we’ve learnt from it all.
The 4-Day Workweek: What is it?
By definition, a 4-day workweek is precisely as it sounds. You work for 4 days instead of the traditional five while maintaining your regular workload and pay. This concept aims to enhance work-life balance, improve employee well-being, and boost productivity. Key aspects of the 4-day workweek include reduced workdays, flexibility, improved work-life balance, potential productivity gains due to employees being more focused and motivated during their reduced hours, reduced commuting, and potential challenges in implementing this concept, such as ensuring essential services are maintained, adapting to different industries, and addressing concerns about potential drops in productivity.
The 4-day workweek concept has gained attention as a way to enhance work satisfaction, reduce burnout, and adapt to changing workforce expectations in the modern world. While it may not be suitable for all industries and roles, it continues to be a topic of interest in the discussion of work reform and employee well-being.
Preparing for the Transition
Preparation is always important before undertaking anything, none more so than when you’re going to remove a day in your working week! Our preparation involved conversations and meetings with Dr Charlotte Rae at the University of Sussex to go through what the process of the 12-week trial would involve and how we can implement a successful 4-day working week into our business. The whole team got involved in this early process too as in order for this to work, everyone has to be onboard and have the same goal. With everyone’s input, we chose to completely shut down the business on the day off, with this being in the middle of the week on a Wednesday.
We had to look into workflows for everyone and explore new efficient ways of delivering work in less time without affecting the quality. If the quality of work was to be negatively affected then it would not be successful so this was very important to us to ensure this didn’t happen.
Once we had everything in place ready to go we shared our excitement with our customers and the world!
The Trial Period
The initial trial with the University of Sussex ran for a 12-week period. In the first week and final week of the trial, a number of our team went down to the university for blood tests, an MRI scan and different stress and concentration tests. We would also be doing a sleep study during the first 2 weeks of the study and the final 2 weeks. The purpose of these tests was to compare the stress levels between the first week of the trial and the final week once we’d done 12 weeks of a 4-day working week.
The adjusted workflows proved to be successful after an initial adjustment period and we introduced deep / focus time into each day which consisted of working on a scheduled task(s) without any distractions from anyone so all of your focus was on that task and nothing else. This proved to be a really big factor in trying to make the trial a success as it meant you couldn’t be distracted by anyone inside or outside of the business that stopped your flow and ensured that the task was done efficiently and to a high standard.
We measured success with a number of factors. Most importantly, did we get all the work done that we usually would in 4 days a week instead of 5? And how was everyone’s well-being after the 12 weeks?
We found during this trial that the team came together to help each other out with workflow if someone needed help that week. Everyone was pushing towards the same goals and showed great teamwork throughout the 12 weeks.
The additional day off in the week proved to be excellent for everyone’s wellbeing and focus. With two days of high-intensity work and concentration, the midweek break ensured there was no burnout and allowed everyone to spend time with family and friends or do something that they wouldn’t get the chance to do at the weekend. Then come back for the final 2 days of the week refreshed and focused.
We will soon be receiving the data results for the trial from the university and will dissect the data to see how much of a success the trial was. In the meantime, we’ve been carrying on the 4-day working week with everyone still as focused as ever within those 4 days and the level of work being produced is still to the high quality we expect of ourselves.
Is a 4-Day Working Week Right for Your Business?
Implementing a 4-day working week can be a significant decision for any business and there are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether to shift from the traditional work structure, and several factors need to be considered before making such a change.
- Your industry & company culture
- Employee productivity
- Distributing workload
- Employee input
- Customer needs
- Communication and training
- Trial period
- How to measure success