Back in 2021, and hot on the heels of the COVID pandemic, we were all feeling pretty burned out. More and more, we were realising the value that our personal time holds, and how important it is for us to all be as happy and healthy as possible.
It had been on our radar for a couple of years that a '4-Day Week Movement' was being trialled in places like Iceland and Scandinavia, and the positive feedback was starting to filter through the media. We took the decision to give it a go!
What does a 4-Day Work Week look like?
For us, not too different to before, if we're honest.
We work from 8.30am until 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday. This set up works well for us because it allows us 4 continuous days of work, and then we get a 3-day weekend.
Logistically, how did we manage the transition to a 4-Day Work Week?
Let's get into the nitty-gritty.
Firstly, we are a small team and so felt it was important to involve the whole team in the planning stage because we wanted everyone to feel empowered and enthusiastic about the change, not daunted by it. We also wanted it to actually work for all, and it would likely involve a change to the working hours during the rest of the week.
We sat down as a team and talked over how everyone would like to see the days structured, and this is what we agreed on. We also felt that this would have the least impact on our customers, and minimise confusion.
5-DAY WORK WEEK
4-DAY WORK WEEK
Monday - Thursday
9am - 5.30pm
8.30am - 5.30pm
9am - 3pm
Total Weekly Hours
By adding a half hour to the start of the day, we were able to recover 2 hours from the 'lost day', meaning we were only actually 3.5 hours down. We use these 30 minutes to plan our day, discuss the workload, and cover any issues arising.
We were confident (and hopeful) that the increase in motivation and energy from our 3-day weekend would make us more efficient, balancing out the loss. We did not want to go down the 'compressed hours' route as it felt like this would negate what we're trying to achieve.
What about holidays?
We work in accordance with the annual leave entitlement outlined by the government of 5.6 weeks. This has not changed, it is just that a week is now comprised of 4 days, not 5, and so the number of days required to achieve this reduced comparatively.
Did we cut salaries?
No. We were adamant from the beginning that we would only consider this enterprise a success if we could do it without changing salaries. We didn't want our team needing to use some of their new 3-day weekend to get a second job to support themselves, that would have been completely against what we are working towards.
When is the best time to make the change to 4 days?
This is likely very specific to each business.
We chose to implement the change on 1 January 2022, a decision made for a few reasons:
We were already in the second half of the year, so it wasn't an age away.
The end of a calendar year is a natural full stop, making the new year a good starting place for new endeavours.
Our annual leave entitlement runs in line with the calendar year, and so it wouldn't create any confusion with holiday allowances.
It was easy for our customers and suppliers to remember. We notified them a couple of months in advance of the pending change to our hours so that they could also transition their communication with us.
We let regular suppliers know the same so that they could also update their systems.
Did we have any fears or concerns going into the 4-Day Work Week?
Here are some of the questions that initially kept us awake at night:
Can we sustain the efficiency needed to make it work?
Is the Friday afternoon lull in productivity and morale going to just move to Thursday instead?
Are we going to create some kind of 4-day 'hell week' where we burn ourselves out, just more efficiently?
Will the shorter open hours upset our customers too much?
Are we going to have issues with suppliers and deliveries?
Did it work?
Absolutely no regrets.
The first thing we all noticed is that we felt rested when we returned to work on a Monday. Our weekends now offer us enough time to spend a day running errands and doing chores, a day doing something nice but still potentially tiring like going on a long bike ride, and then a day of absolute rest where we don't have to leave the sofa if we don't want to.
Productivity and efficiency increased almost immediately, and we didn't have to flog ourselves to do it either. We were able to do the same amount of work in less time, without cutting any corners. We achieved this by planning ahead and making sure that we had the right systems and processes in place to support our workload, feeling more physically rested and having more energy, and most importantly, mentally feeling more enthused, energised and positive about the working week. No 'hell week' for us.
One of the most useful things for us as a team has been the introduction of the 30-minute meetings. This extra half hour in the morning is for us to plan our day as efficiently as possible. It allows us the time to take stock of where we are with our workload, brainstorm any difficulties as a team, and has reduced the margin for error and delays.
Our Customers & Suppliers
On the whole, our customers were not really affected by the change. We weren't open at the weekend anyway, and we closed early on a Friday. I'm sure this would be different for other kinds of businesses, but for us, there was no real impact. Our customers make the time to come and see us, like they did before. We already had a relationship in place with a local bike shop, so weekend drop-offs can be made there, and this is still in place.
Suppliers and deliveries are largely unaffected as we just let them know when we're open for them to deliver.
The 4-Day Work Week is working well for us all here. We are all happier, more productive, enjoy being at work because we're not burned out and flustered all the time, and we have more time to spend with our family and friends, or just to have for ourselves. Our time feels more balanced.
We are proud to have been accredited by the 4-Day Week Campaign, and will continue with it for the foreseeable future. Watch this space!