Last year in November we started an experiment - Yourday. The idea was simple: we would work four days a week, take one extra day off to pursue our own interests, and come back on Monday energized and fully rested.
Why 4 day work week?
We do what we preach, and we preach well-being and high performance for ourselves and our colleagues.
We relied on two core ideas:
- We live in a fast-paced ever-changing world of too much. Five days a week is a long time to be at work, and two days is not enough time to relax and recharge.
- In general human beings are very adaptive and respond well to stretching goals, so we can definitely achieve the same or even more in less time with sharper and more focused minds and energy.
We announced within the company, that we want to run the Yourday experiment for the next 6 months.
The hypothesis is stated a - Shorter workweek will have a positive effect on our happiness and productivity.
- Same pay. Everyone works one day less per week, but their pay is the same
- Fewer hours. Extra hours were not added on the other four days to make up for the "missing" day
- The same flexibility in working schedule
- No changes to the “work from anywhere” policy
- Make Friday #Yourday - do what you want on this day!
- Support and product quality must stay at the same level or better
- We will evaluate productivity subjectively by discussion and reflections in each sprint
- Support needs to self-organize (agree on shifts). And as before development team needs to keep an eye on the support slack channel in case of something urgent comes up
- Thursdays are not the new Fridays
We were open, that if it even feels something is getting out of control, we will stop the experiment.
The initial response from the team was appreciative but with some concerns. Most got right away excited and a couple of team members weren't sure if it was going to work.
The next step was to actually start the experiment and see if it works.
Is working 4 days a week good?
After running the experiment for six months, we are ready to make some conclusions.
- Weekly productivity stayed the same. We have not out delivered or wowed ourselves, but we delivered to our clients what we planned and delighted them with a few extras
- Quality was not jeopardized. The number of critical errors went down. We kept our famous support at the highest level with a satisfaction rate above 90%
- We noticed everyone started to care more and be more proactive. We know this will help us to achieve better results in the long run
- All feel happier, and we all have more time for our hobbies and families
- Perhaps the best part is that we don't even miss those extra working hours.
Yes, we continue to pursue less is more and keep a four-day workweek.
We will keep on challenging ourselves to find ways of doing more with less time. And we encourage you to do the same!
Accept, that you will do less, but with better decision making and quality. Have a mix of quantitative and qualitative, subjective and objective metrics to follow.
If your product and process are in a bad shape, first commit as a team to sort this out. When you are part of a mess or tons of manual processes it is your responsibility to invest time and improve the situation.
It takes time to adjust. You will continue to plan more and stress about it. You need time to do an inventory of where you used to invest your time, and how can you work smarter to achieve more with less time. This challenge is for every individual and every team; do not expect someone will tell you how to do it. We are adults and if we want to make a work revolution we need to be able to sort this out.
One of the key arguments we hear from other companies is that flexible time is more important. We disagree, four-day workweek and flexible time are not substitutes for one another. Flexible time helps you to integrate work and private life better. The four-day workweek is the next level for our quality of life. Knowing you have three days to yourself with little to no chance to be involved in work makes wonder about your well-being.
Remember, only in 1929, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union was the first union to demand and receive a five-day workweek. The rest of the United States slowly followed, but it was not until 1940, when a provision of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act mandating a maximum 40-hour workweek went into effect, that the two-day weekend was adopted nationwide. Before that, the norm was around 48 hours per week (Saturdays included).
Context: We are a multinational, distributed team of 18 people total with 8 engineers, 3 support agents, and 4 marketers making international products.