In early September I started researching different tactics for converting HEARD to a four-day work week. By the middle of the month I had informed all the staff of how we would implement a two-month trial period and then we would assess and move forward. Each employee could choose one-day off during the week to have off. No penalty, no longer work days on the other four - just one whole day off. Easy peasy.
We will not be permanently implementing it going forward.
It’s not because the work didn’t get done or clients felt neglected or anything of the sort. It is simply because the stress level of the entire workforce went up around their day off. I often heard comments like “Uggghhh, I have to get this done before Thursday because Friday is my day off” and “I had to jump online on Sunday night to make sure I got a head start on the week.” This sort of defeats the purpose of the four-day week...more stress doesn’t make for a good work-life balance which is what we were trying to achieve.
It wasn’t all bad though; teams collaborated more to make sure coverage happened on accounts, work that normally took three hours to complete was now being done in two...making the employee more efficient and saving the client billable hours (yes we actually try to manage client’s billable hours in the RIGHT direction).
Ultimately it was just a little bit of a pain in the ass. There were days when I said to myself ‘I’ll just give this to…oh wait...she’s off today. Ok...it can wait till tomorrow.”
Nothing broke. Work was always done. It just wasn’t ideal and everyone was stressed more.
So where do we go from here? How do we all have the work/life balance that is really important to our company culture? Rather than different employees having different days off we have to track and account for...we’re just going to simplify it.
We will not be permanently moving to a four-day work week, BUT we will be moving to a permanent four-and-a-half-day work week.
HEARD will shut down at 1pm on Fridays and I’m encouraging all our employees to do something ‘healthy’ with that time. Take a yoga class, go for a walk with your dog, meditate, take a nap, get your hair done, etc. Do something for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do during a normal workday that benefits your health, well-being and overall sanity.
The four-day work week wasn’t a failure, rather clarification on what I thought I already knew. HEARD has an amazingly talented and dedicated workforce who tries to make everything perfect for all of our clients. It became clear that it takes a little more than just four days a week though.
But just a little…about a half day or so…