Our 4 day work week

Before the Australian trials, before the UK trials – we implemented a 4 day work week. Driven by a desire to put wellbeing front & centre we made the shift early in 2022.

But more than that, rewarding output not hours is something that needs to be normalised, and I wanted to show how it can work.

I implemented a number of wellbeing focussed initiatives, the key being a 4 day week generally resulting in both of us working around 30 odd hours per week.

Because we work from home with minimal interruptions our output is high. For this reason it was very important that compensation was based on a comparable full time salary – not pro rata

And I need to be clear, the intent wasn’t to take a full time workload and put the pressure on to get the work done in 4 days. Our workflows are scheduled based on what is reasonably achievable in 30 hours, factoring in our individual pace and skill.

Realistically though, we are achieving the same output as if we were in an office working 5 days per week, it’s the lack of water cooler chatter because we work from home, coupled with the the focus on output. There is something very freeing about flipping the narrative from “you’re employed to sit here from 8am – 5pm” to “this is what we need to get done this week, once you’re finished focus on something you’re passionate about”

Current “4 Day Week” trials work off a 100-80-100 model where companies allow employees to work 80% of their regularly scheduled hours in return for 100% of their pay and a pledge to deliver 100% of their standard output.

After 6 months we each wrote a social media post to discuss our experiences, this is what Tiahanna had to say:

“I have a mining background where corporations number 1 priority is output and production rather than the physical and mental well-being of their employees. I used to work an 8/6 roster, although the 6 days off were blissful, the 8 days on were regularly so hectic, it got to the point where I was wasting half of my days off just trying to recuperate rather than doing things for myself⁠

The 4 day work week has given me a larger perspective on life and has given me the freedom to make choices and create a better work/life balance – we work to live, we don’t live to work⁠”

And me?

“I certainly feel more balanced in body & mind and that has assisted with clearer thought processes related to the business. I’m finding it easier to integrate all aspects of my life and getting to spend more time off the hamster wheel of life”

Which brings us to the present, approaching the 12 month mark. The verdict?

Focussing on 4 key area’s important to her, Tiahanna provided the following feedback.

  • My personal life – This did not take any hits, I didn’t have to miss out on anything due to fatigue, stress, overtime, or anything else.
  • My health – I don’t think I’ve moved my body this much during my whole life, the balance of a 4-day work week has given me so much energy and focus, I really feel like I can look at most things so much more holistically now – that may sound wishy washy but I don’t think many people understand what having a good balance can actually feel like. 
  • My work life  – flourished, I’m working less but I definitely feel like I’m getting more done and to a better standard. 
  • Development – I even had enough energy to add on studying, that’s right, I’ve gone back to school so I can better serve all of our wonderful clients.

And from my perspective as a business owner and participant?

The short version – The work gets done, absenteeism isn’t an issue and engagement is high. (I mean, what more can you ask for)

As a HR community we know that when people are put first the organisation performs better. When flexibility exists to allow greater integration of a person’s work & personal life, wellbeing increases, burnout and stress decrease. Health outcomes are higher, work output is higher, employees are happier and more engaged.

And my experiences as a participant? As any small business owner will tell you, there’s “work hours” then there is all the other stuff that gets done after hours and on weekends. Although I recognised early on that unless I wanted to burnout and grow to resent my business I needed to put boundaries in place, it’s not realistic to be militant with maintaining them.

First & foremost, we are a service based business, and when things go wrong it doesn’t always fit neatly into my hours of work. So 100% consistency of maintaining a 4 day week, for me, was never going to be achievable. But predominantly it has been.

The clarity that comes with not always “being on” has produced better business outcomes which is reflective in the bottom line.

I have more time to focus on the non work related things that are important to me, we aren’t our jobs so *this* is a super important factor to be cognisant of.

But don’t just take our word for it, 96.9% of employees who have trialled a 4 day week throughout 2022 want to continue. Trials scored a 9/10 with companies.

A wide range of well-being metrics showed significant improvement from the beginning to the end of the trial. Stress, burnout, fatigue, work-family conflict all declined, while physical and mental health, positive affect, work- family and work-life balance, and satisfaction across multiple domains of life increased.

Of the companies that provided metrics related to revenue there was an 8.14% increase during the trial period. When compared to the same 6 month period in 2021 the increase was much larger at 37.55%.

You can download the full report here

Through impactful HR we create a positive employee experience every time.

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