There’s no denying the fact that COVID-19 has changed the way we do work – where we do it, how we do it and when we do it.
While in the past, the four-day workweek seemed like a luxury – if not a dream – many companies are beginning to implement shortened workweek experiments … and they’re working.
In the U.K., over 70 companies are participating in a four-day workweek trial program. The pilot program reached its halfway point in September, and 86% of participating companies said that they would be likely or extremely likely to continue the four-day workweek at the end of the pilot program. Nearly all companies (95%) reported either a maintained or increased level of productivity from employees, and 15% reported a “significant improvement.”
As more companies trial the four-day workweek and see its benefits and challenges, here are three companies that successfully implemented a shortened workweek – and the lessons you can take away from them.
Think the four-day workweek sounds like a dream? How about a three-day week?
A Chick-fil-A owner in Miami has implemented a program for employees to break up their week into three 13-14 hour days, giving employees a four-day weekend if they choose.
Staff are split up into two groups, with one group working Monday through Wednesday and the second group working Thursday through Sunday for two weeks and then they switch.
With 429 applications in one week, it’s clear that the idea of more days off than working days is attractive to job seekers. Current employees love it too, according to the store owner-operator, Justin Lindsey, in an interview with Inc. Employees have been able to pick up side gigs, travel to visit family, see friends and more. Lindsey also reported other benefits, like fewer call-outs for employees participating in the program compared to those not doing the three-day week.
Lesson learned: Not all employees need the same things. When coming up with a four-day workweek plan, listen to what your employees need. While Chick-fil-A workers found their three-day week beneficial, it may not be for all industries and could lead to burnout and turnover.
The engineering insights company Uplevel had a months-long four-day workweek trial in January of this year. Employees worked Monday through Thursday with no changes to salary. The trial was so successful that the four-day workweek was made permanent.
Data from the trial found notable benefits like:
- Product delivery volume increased
- More customers were onboarded than any other quarter, and
- Employee well-being increased, with employees feeling less used up after work and less fatigued in the mornings.
There were also positive increases in other areas of work, like mental health benefits and productivity.
Lesson learned: Create a robust plan and track changes to truly understand how a four-day workweek can impact your company. Uplevel’s playbook shows how the data they gathered helped them to implement the program permanently. It also offers some ground rules for using the shorter workweek efficiently, such as meeting health and Slack usage.
Basecamp is a leader in flexible work. A work-from-home schedule was implemented 10 years ago and offers “summer hours” – a seasonal 4-day workweek. Summer hours go from May 1 to Aug. 31.
“The key is in the constraint,” Basecamp employee Kris Niles wrote. Summer hours are not about forcing 40 hours of work into four days. Instead, the 32-hour weeks force employees to prioritize what matters and let go of unnecessary or cumbersome work.
Lesson learned: Be flexible and open. Even if a year-round four-day workweek wouldn’t be feasible for your business, there are other ways to help improve work-life balance for employees. Maybe your company can afford to have a seasonal schedule like Basecamp or give employees every other Friday off.