Four-Day Work Week: Pilot & Early Difficulties [An SEJ Case Research Study, Part 1]

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In September, SMM Panel personnel voted to approve a trial run of a four-day work week program!

We’re running the program in partnership with 4 Day Week International as a six-month pilot.

One of the crucial tenets of the trial internally is that it’s employee-led– which is why leadership asked for a staff member vote on whether to begin the trial. Management likewise chose a committee of staff members to hear issues and carry out a policy regarding the trial.

We’re coming up to the halfway point of our trial, and I wanted to blog about a few of the successes and obstacles we have actually come across so far.

If you’re considering executing a four-day work week trial for your company, I hope this information can assist you prepare!

The Four-Day Work Week Program

The four-day work week experiment has a few essential tenets:

  • It needs to work for everyone.
  • People shouldn’t be trying to fit more time into their week in other ways. It needs to be 100% pay, 80% time, and 100% efficiency.
  • Completion result should make life better and less difficult during the work week– not more difficult.

The Greatest Difficulties With A Four-Day Work Week

If you read this post, I’m going to assume you’re already on board with the prospective advantages of four-day work weeks.

We’ve experienced numerous benefits, and I’ll go through them in a future post.

Let’s get right into the difficulties we found with the pilot program and the services we have actually executed so far.

A Four-Day Work Week Has Various Ramifications For Various Teams

Teams that handle anyone externally may have a harder adjustment to four-day weeks.

External facing teams, like sales, account management, and media, lose a day throughout which their contacts may send crucial or time-sensitive messages.

If your company’s schedule isn’t efficiently communicated, this may trigger frustration and missed out on deadlines.

These groups might have additional issues about the KPIs they’re responsible for, and whether they’ll need to be on-call to deal with immediate issues that come up throughout off days.

We decided to withstand the temptation to attempt and discover workarounds that ensure we keep coverage for the full week.

This may not work for your business. As 4 Day Week Worldwide says, there isn’t one service that works for every company.

We went over at length the possibility of having various teams or different employees working various schedules.

However, four-day weeks are a challenging modification, and the more complicated you make it internally, the most likely you will not get full implementation across the entire business.

Numerous business have employees who feel that it’s necessary to put in additional hours.

To keep everything fair and avoid some employees from taking on extra burdens, we chose that everybody ought to take the same day of rest, and it ought to be enforced as closure time– a minimum of for the duration of our trial.

There have been some circumstances where individuals put in extra time on a Friday (I’ve done it, though just two times), however in general, we find that the temptation is less popular if everybody observes the same day. It’s much easier to keep the cultural message that we are closed on a single day.

So, how do you fix the issues external teams will experience?

Clear interaction is our response. Be public about your new schedule, and connect to any external stakeholders to notify them.

You’ll require to send consistent reminders. It’s good to put the details on your site, email signatures, and any boilerplate messages you send out externally.

This needs assistance from management and every worker to guarantee that external-facing groups do not handle a much heavier concern than others.

We’re still executing this. Various teams have various interaction duties.

A Four-Day Work Week Impacts Part-Time And Per Hour Employees, And Specialists Differently

For salaried employees, the four-day work week estimation is quite simple: 100% pay, 80% time, 100% productivity.

SEJ utilizes people all over the world and has a variety of different contracts and plans. We have some full-time specialists, some part-time professionals, and even some per hour plans.

How to guarantee that the four-day week is an equivalent advantage for all celebrations is a challenge we continue to deal with.

Our priority is an employee-lead technique to these concerns.

Since we have numerous different kinds of employment plans, how to finest handle the program for each type of worker is an ongoing discussion, and contract workers have representation on the internal committee making policy decisions throughout the trial.

We discovered a range of opinions about the best method to manage the various plans, and the staff member committee has actually presented some possibilities to management.

We used existing info from 4 Day Week International, particularly some of its case studies, to guide our discussions.

Do Vacations Produce Three-Day Weeks?

Throughout the 2nd week of our trial, we ended up with a three-day week.

This triggered a fair bit of frustration and issue. That extension of reduced hours puts a lot of pressure on staff members who have performance KPIs to fulfill.

Part of the concern is that we had a policy that moved the observance of vacations that fall on weekends into weekdays. We were observing Saturday vacations on Fridays, and Sunday vacations on Mondays.

With the four-day work week, we decided that we ought to customize that policy.

Holidays that fall on Fridays and Saturdays will no longer be observed during the work week. Vacations that fall during the week, and those that fall on Sundays, will still lead to day of rests.

That method, staff members can still gain from the occasional extra-short week, however we aren’t creating a lot of high-stress weeks with less time to get things done.

Four-Day Weeks Exacerbate Existing Productivity Discomfort Points– This Is Good, In fact

If you have issues with your workflow or performance, try out four-day weeks will make them immediate.

Which’s good.

It’s easy to get so overtaken the daily work and the most critical deadlines that your housekeeping suffers. Whether private staff member, group, or business, it’s hard to find time to improve efficiency and remove obstructions.

Losing a day makes this work immediate and necessary. It will likewise reveal you where the most significant discomfort points are.

This can be a little bit of a shock. If you have a particular process using up a lot of time (like, I don’t know, meetings), it will all of a sudden get a lot more problematic for everyone included.

We found this really useful, and it’s been a big push that all of us needed to deal with inefficiencies as a team.

We’re still dealing with it. The issue with less time is that, well, you have less time.

However here’s where we feel that our employee-led effort is critical: Our committee of workers overseeing the program has actually been empowered to make choices and set goals. All employees have actually been welcomed to share their experiences, struggles, and tips via an anonymized recommendation box.

For this program to work, you require the truth:

  • Who feels like they have to work additional time?
  • Who is more stressed about the program, and why?
  • Does anybody feel that execution has been unfair?

These aren’t realities everybody will feel comfortable putting their name to, or taking directly to leadership.

That’s why SEJ thought it was necessary to have a committee of employees from multiple levels that was empowered not only to hear staff member concerns, but also to make decisions about the program.

How Is SEJ’s Four-Day Work Week Working?

As you can see, we had plenty of obstacles! The above isn’t an exhaustive list of the obstructions and stumbles we’ve had along the method.

We’re about midway into the program, and while we still have numerous kinks to exercise, the overall sentiment is favorable.

We absolutely have some big concerns to respond to and some huge workflow problems to take on.

The four-day work week not just provides us more control over our individual lives but likewise presses us to resolve existing issues that we may not have otherwise focused on.

We’re collecting feedback from all staff member about the program as we go. I’ll compose an update soon to discuss some of the outcomes.

More resources:

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/SMM Panel