A 4(ish) day work week, 1 year on.
There’s no shame in admitting that we need regular time off as humans. We’re not computers, and we weren’t programmed to be ‘active’ 24/7. We need time to recuperate, socialise, practise self-care, and generally just switch off for a while. This is why, we followed in the footsteps of our Nordic neighbours, and since January, have been working to the beat of our own drum. A 4 day(ish) week drum (we finish at 12 on Fridays). And do you know something? We wouldn’t change it for the world.
In fact, we’re so into it, that we compiled this blog to tell you just how into it we are. From increasing productivity to striking up a better work-life balance (we’ve even sprinkled some stats in there for good measure), we thought we’d share with you the positives of this mental-health driven journey that we have found ourselves embarking upon.
The 4 Day Work Week
As conversations of the 4-day work week started to bubble, Iceland decided to do something about it. From 2015 to 2019, they conducted the world’s largest experiment on how the country and the public would fare if they took an extra day off work. As 2,500 workers signed up – equivalent to 1% of the country’s population – they were only required to work 35 or 36 hours, instead of 40. And throughout the trial, they still received the same pay.
Naturally, you can see how attractive this deal is, which is why it was no surprise when the results tipped massively in favour of the shorter working week. Especially in terms of health and actual work produced. Take a look at some of the major positives from the experiment:
- An improved work-life balance
- Increased productivity
- More efficient use of working hours
- Stress reduction
And 3 years on, approximately 86% of Iceland’s population have the right to a 4 day work week.
Alongside this overwhelming success, other countries began taking note, like Belgium, who introduced the right to work a 5 day week in 4 days without losing salary. Not to mention Microsoft Japan, who reported a 40% jump in productivity and an employee happiness rise after they implemented a 4 day work week trial. Essentially, people (like us) are realising that they can still work and still earn money without sacrificing their own happiness and wellbeing. Let’s take a look at what we did:
Our 4(ish) Day Work Week
We’ve always put the happiness of our team first, which is why we used to work until 3pm on Fridays during the summer months. As a Barcelona-based agency, you won’t be surprised when we tell you that it gets very hot that time of year, which can have a major effect on productivity and general comfort. And hello – the siesta in Spain is literally a world-famous tradition – if they’re encouraging us to take some me-time during the day, we’re not going to say no!
Jokes aside, after our team noted how the 3pm Friday finish was genuinely helpful to not only their personal schedules, but their work ones, too, we extended it all year round. Only to shorten it again to 12pm in our quest to continue moving forward into more accessible wellbeing in the workplace territory.
If we’re honest, much of Fridays were spent discussing our plans for the weekend. No real work got done after the first couple of hours, so it only made sense to trial the shorter working week.
Ben, our SEO manager gave his insight into the shorter week, saying: “4 days a week is great, as it gives me the opportunity on Friday to either run errands, catch up on personal things or simply get a workout in when while the gym is quiet on Friday afternoon. It means I can wake up on Saturday with more things ticked off and I can enjoy my weekend to the fullest!”
As a business, when making these sorts of decisions, trust is at the core. If we haven’t finished our week’s work by 12pm on Friday, we’ll stay until it’s done. We’re a team, and just because we can leave by lunchtime, it doesn’t mean we will. We’d never leave anyone in the lurch or screw someone’s Monday schedule up – if we want to all enjoy a long weekend, we make sure everything is finalised and prepped for the next week ahead. In reality, that’s the only way this sort of thing can work. But you know what? So far, so good.
Kerryn, our Digital PR Account Manager also stresses the importance of this work-life balance: “For me, a four day week means we’re no longer living for the weekend. My week and weekend now feel more balanced. I’m more productive, alert and energised. Gone are those Sunday evening blues that ironically used to arrive on a Friday afternoon!”
Fridays at Minty
The 3 hours we work on a Friday are now dedicated to admin work. We finish off timesheets and make to-do lists for the next week but we don’t really focus on client work. (Tip: This is super helpful for actually being able to implement the 4-day work week – we plan everything meticulously so we know what needs to be done by EOD Thursday.)
Since Jan, we’ve actually launched some of our most successful campaigns ever, and not once have we felt squeezed for time. Like this one. We also have 100% staff retention (4 years and going strong!), and as for job perks, well, let’s just say its in the top 3 for all of us!
Leah, our Digital PR Executive details this perfectly, saying: “I think work-life balance is very important. In my position creativity is a huge aspect, I don’t get that from being stuck at a desk 9-5, five days a week! Working four days a week allows me to get out, spend time with friends and explore the beautiful city I live in, and in turn helps with my creativity and productivity,” while Sophie, our Content Manager added: “I tend to spend my Fridays catching up on life admin like the washing and supermarket shop! Once I’m done I go out to meet friends, paddle board, go for coffee etc. My weeks feel so much more balanced, and my annual leave doesn’t disappear as quickly!”
What do you really do on a Friday anyway?
According to this study by Vouchercloud, the average UK office worker only spends 2 hours and 53 minutes out of the typical 8 hour working day being productive. The rest of the time, 54% of workers say they procrastinate through a series of social media scrolling sessions and news websites until it’s time to clock off.
Introducing a shorter working week means there is literally not enough time for this mindless activity – the incentive of a longer weekend is enough to lock phones in lockers and get fingers back on keyboards.
But it’s not just the idea of a 3 day weekend that should convince people to get their jobs done on time – the workplace atmosphere needs to be positive, too. Because when people spend time in environments that aren’t negative, they will subconsciously absorb the energy and vice versa.
In the US, the Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organisation conducted studies that measured disengagement and the effects it had on employees and businesses. It revealed that disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 50% more defects and errors, and 49% more accidents.
Businesses with low employee engagement scores reported 18% lower productivity, 37% lower job growth, 16% lower profitability and 65% lower share price over time.
This means businesses that actively project a positive working atmosphere will be more successful over time.
Work Hard Play Hard
We’ve worked hard to be able to say that our team genuinely love their jobs, and that’s because we’ve found the perfect working conditions for us. It means we all put in 100% all the time, we all root for each other and the growth of the company, and we all genuinely enjoy what we do.
Charlie, our CEO had this to say:
So far, it’s been well worth it. Since we’ve implemented the 4 day work week we’ve seen an increase in both client and staff retention as well as the company hitting record breaking revenue for 2022. I strongly believe this is due to the fact the team are now more rested and have a good balance between work life and personal life.
For me, it gives me a bit of extra time to catch up on that bit of life admin, work planning for the next week and completely clear up my Saturday and Sunday without having to worry about needing to run around doing errands. I have more time for the things I enjoy, and like the rest of the team have said – my weeks feels much more balanced.
Work-life balance? Completed it mate.