4-Day Work Weeks — How You Can Nail the Culture Reset

4 day work week
Source: Unsplash/Raj Rana.

Results of a large-scale trial of the 4 day work week are in, and the results look very promising. 

The six-month trial comprising 61 UK businesses who had either already been working a four-day work week, or were currently testing the switch, was conducted by 4 Day Week Global and Autonomy Research.

Last week, Phil McParlane, founder of 4 Day Week, an online job board for employment opportunities in roles with shorter working weeks, posted the results of the UK trial on LinkedIn. They included:

  • 92% of companies will continue with the 32-hour week
  • 35% increase in revenue (over the previous year)
  • A 57% decrease in staff leaving jobs
  • 37% increase in mental health
  • Burnout reduced by 71%
  • Stress reduced by 39%

Other benefits included a decrease in absenteeism and easier hiring.

Resetting culture and de-intensifying the workload

Two leaders in Australian business are among many who’ve had success with the 4 day work week closer to home.

Inventium began a trial of the 4 day work week in the middle of 2020. “The whole world was in a pretty bad place then”, founder Amantha Imber recalled, and said that while engagement and morale at Inventium were quite good, the company was “looking at ways that we could do a bit of a reset on culture.”

A trial began to see if it would improve things like stress levels, engagement, and job satisfaction. After six months Imber said it was “an outright success.” It has been a permanent fixture at Inventium for two and a half years now, and Imber “couldn’t imagine going back to a normal 5 day week, to be honest.”

At Tractor Ventures, a month-long trial began in June 2021. “The reasoning was a mixture of an intense weekly workload, with knowing that Fridays were a typically low production day on the external front,” explained engagement director Garry Williams.

“The experiment validated the idea,” he said,  “and the Fridays have been taken off ever since.”

Time is money

To manage the new format, Tractor has a “massive emphasis” on asynchronous communications and intentional meetings. “Each meeting has a significant cost,” Williams said, “even more so if there are more than two people in the room.”

“So we think pretty carefully about the time we are taking up in the other days rather than the time we are losing on a Friday.”

Dip the toes in

“Run it as an experiment”, Imber said. “If you’re feeling nervous, don’t launch into a massive policy change ride, just run it as an experiment.”

“Set some hypotheses, what are you hoping will happen if you shift to a four-day week?”

“Dip the toes in,” said Williams, who also understands dropping a day won’t work for everyone. “Try it for a month; see what the results are. See what the results for you are.

“Then remember that post-2pm Friday is usually some of the lowest productivity going around, and the morning is not much better. You’d be amazed at the energy and intention people bring to their role when you provide some extra space to prioritise and focus.”.

This article originally appeared in SmartCompany to inform readers about Smart50 Workplaces, which gives national recognition to great Australian SME workplaces.

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