Even before the pandemic, there were a few companies choosing to work shorter weeks. In Japan, Microsoft gave it a try in later part of 2019 and found that doing so increased productivity, reduced stress, and lessened employee burnout. It also had the added benefit of lowering operating costs for that month.
With COVID-19, average work environments have become even more stressful. Places like New Zealand are acknowledging that there is no "one size fits all" solution to helping companies recover or thrive through the global pandemic.
What would happen if your company decided to run fewer days per week? Would you discover the same benefits as other companies? To answer this question for yourself, you will have to test the theory in your own company. However, to help you, we have looked to find out how other companies are dealing with COVID-19 and what they have gained from switching to a 4-day work week.
Soon after the pandemic hit, Buffer became a company that chose to experiment for a single month. Their goal was to reduce the stress that employees and teammates were dealing with because of the global crisis. In June, the company decided to continue their May experiment to last the rest of 2020.
Why the change from "experiment" to full-time? The answer to this is in the feedback provided by their teammates. It seems unanimous that everyone experienced lower stress levels, increased work happiness, and less burnout. Employees worked more efficiently and effectively in their four days because of how relaxed they felt.
Although it is only something they are trying for the rest of the year, there is hope that it will continue to prove such an undeniable success.
Elephant Ventures has been doing 4-day work weeks in the Philippines for the past five years. They have noticed that across the board there is an increase in productivity because workers feel it balances out the work-life scenarios that we all have to face in the workforce.
In early June, the company closed its doors on their brick and mortar offices in the US. At the time, there was reasonable certainty that the doors would remain closed. However, in August, they decided that this was not what they truly wanted and began trying to come up with a way to meet the needs of clients in the "post Covid-19" world and take tips from their Philippines offices.
It is a little too soon to tell whether it is an absolute success or not. This does not mean that there isn't a hope that clients and employees will all be happy working this shorter workweek.
Shopify's employees have embraced the remote/in-office way of working for years. However, in March 2020, they closed the door and went fully remote in an effort to "flatten the curve". The fact that they are working in a digital space by default, has made the transition much easier for them than traditional brick and mortar businesses. They already understand that eliminating bad work habits and strengthening healthier ones is beneficial to everyone.
In June, Shopify once again changed things up and announced on Twitter that they would reserve Friday as the day for R&R. Their goal at the time was to enjoy the shorter work week through August. It remains to be seen whether it is extended or not.
For more than a year, Shake Shack has been testing the theory of shorter work weeks makes for happier employees. It began with a test run in Las Vegas to give managers an extra day off from work each week, while providing them with the typical 40-hour work week benefits. This means the same pay for fewer hours. With the success of it, the gradually spread out the "testing phase" to include more locations.
Their findings over the last year, is that employees, especially moms, appreciate working a shorter week because it gives them an extra day to spend with their families. This makes them feel better about being at work, because they do not miss out on taking kids to school, running errands on their day off, and more.
As the pandemic took hold of the US and all other areas of the globe, Shake Shack did what it could to care for its employees. They still strive to do what they can for the communities that they are a part of.
Radioactive Public Relations
In June 2019, Radioactive Public Relations reached their one-year benchmark for working shorter work weeks. They were one of the first companies in the UK to give shorter weeks a try and quickly decided to extend their "test" phase.
Why was the test phase extended? The answer to this is simple. Employees were taking fewer sick days, recruitment was on the rise, business was growing, and employees were happier across the board. The employee happiness reasoning has ranged from enjoying the time with their families to doing things that they wouldn't be able to do if they worked a traditional work week.
This New Zealand-based company was one of the first to jump on board with shorter work weeks. Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian, began testing the water with it in 2018. Since then, they have discovered that it encourages employees to work harder while encouraging staff members to organize their time more efficiently while at work.
Overall, it has lowered the stress level of all who work within the company by allowing them to have more of a life outside the office. Employees can now use their time to take up hobbies, spend time with loved ones, return to school for extra studies, and much more.
If you are interested in learning more about balancing your work/life schedule or want to know more about transitioning to a shorter work week, we are here for you. You can contact us, join our newsletter, and more. Our goal at 30 Hour Jobs is to ensure everyone works the way they want to work.