The Evolution Into A Four Day Work Week
The 4-day-work week has huge benefits for both employees and employers. Read Big Lemon's experience and why they're making it permanent
Escape’s content writer Tim shares his opinions on the 4-day-week and Big Lemon tell us why they're making it permanent.
This month has seen many companies trial the 4-day-work week. It’s a campaign we love: Escape went from running a trial earlier in 2021 to becoming permanent adopters. We’re always looking to promote companies or ideas that understand how meaningful work can fit into the larger picture of someone’s life, and today we bring you both.
A slogan in the sporting world is “better people make better players” and this is also true in the world of work. The extra day allows people to pursue their dreams, hobbies, to upskill, spend a day volunteering, and explore other parts of themselves to become more rounded individuals with more experience. It makes people who are better to work with and better at their jobs. It also makes happier people, which might be the most important thing of all.
Alongside the fact I am happier and more productive since adopting the 4-day-week, one thing I won't miss from the 5 day week was the totemic importance of a Saturday. Saturday was like a child genius, it promised so much, I couldn’t wait for it, but it would always collapse under the sheer weight of its own importance. Thoughts of the weekend being a failure arising from 2pm on a Saturday is not something I miss. Nowadays, I come back to work excited, with energy and ideas, knowing I can give my all for 4 days and be hugely productive.
So as promised, here is an awesome company’s experience trialling an awesome idea. Big Lemon produce app development and web design projects that deliver social impact, they’re making sure that tech is a force for good, only taking on projects that deliver positive change.
Take it away Big Lemon…
You may have seen the buzz recently about the 4 Day Working Week formal pilot that has launched UK wide.
For a couple of years or so now we have been chatting on and off about how we make a 4 Day Working Week (4DWW) a reality at Big Lemon. A 4DWW completely aligns with our values and ethos, so this shift has always felt inevitable.
Countries with shorter working hours typically have a smaller carbon footprint so reducing the work week from 5 to 4 days could have an environmental benefit.
In the summer of 2021 we trialled out a 4DWW for a month in August.
After this trial we did some thorough digging with the team, sharing our experiences and thoughts, sending around anonymous surveys too to get the real picture of how the gang found the change.
Some questions we asked the team via an anonymous survey included:
Q. Did you have any concerns before your first 4-day week?
A: 90% were worried about the lack of time to complete tasks.
Q. How much did working 4 days per week negatively impact your workload and capacity? (1 = not at all / 5 = extremely).
A: The outcome after our trial was an average of 2.8.
Even with its challenges the unanimous decision was that 100% of the team wanted the 4DWW to be adopted permanently.
Reflective comments from the team on what the most attractive aspect of a 4DWW would be to them included:
'To be honest Friday is not my most productive day' 'It would give me more time to recharge' 'Mental health benefits' 'Focus on becoming more deliberate with my time Monday-Thursday'
We are super chuffed to announce that as of February 2022 we will be shifting to a 4DWW for 6 months, with the aim of staying a 4DWW company permanently.
We are a big communicative bunch at Big Lemon, no day is without much chatter on all levels, but we recognise that moving to a 4DWW can be daunting, and it is not without its obstacles for a busy, multiple project, small team, big mission focused company. And it can be daunting for us on a personal level; happiness, wellbeing and mental health is our priority.
We will be sharing weekly reflective surveys with the team individually, which will hopefully provide some more structured data gathering that we can analyse. Alongside this we will have monthly team chats, and slightly larger 3 month and 6 month check-ins.
There have been some unknowns as well as many questions along the way, there still are unknowns and questions, and we have found a limited amount of resources available to help navigate the 4DWW shift at times.
For example; How does holiday allowance work? How many hours a week is the official 4 Day Working Week? Do you just squeeze in the same hours into less days? Can you spread the hours over 5 days or do we have to all work on the days/hours? How do we make this work practically, what does it mean for project deliverables? What impact will it have on our partnerships, our clients that we work with? Will we struggle to financially commit to a 4DWW?
Let’s go with the holiday allowance conundrum. If you look up the guidance on Government websites about holiday allowance they indicate that a reduction in holiday should happen. Unfortunately this doesn’t reflect the reality of adopting a 4DWW for everyone, permanently, it is based on reducing hours, going ‘part time’. We ended up reaching out to the lovely folk at Escape the City, who align with our values driven, purpose led mission. They have adopted a 4DWW too and haven’t reduced their holiday allowance, and when you think about it, that is exactly what should happen. No holiday should be reduced, holiday is not something that should be sacrificed.
Nobody’s salary has changed due to the shift in working 4 days a week, for us we never questioned the team's salary. We are very aware that there are many folk out there that find the money calculation a huge barrier, a blocker to even considering, let alone explore, the possible shift to a 4DWW.
The 4DWW was successfully trialled in Iceland, this article has a much more thorough reflection of that pilot that we found super useful.
It really is a matter of trying it out, each situation is different. Is it worth the time and energy to figure it out? Heck we truly believe so. We have to be the change we want to see.
We will be hosting a free open-to-everyone webinar soon, to drill into the details of a 4DWW, demystifying some of the unknowns, spark interest, encourage others to implement change, create a supportive space for questions and queries with a wider community. We hope you will join us. Ping over a message to let us if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get the webinar details shared in the coming weeks.
In the meantime here are a couple of resources that we have found useful: