Blog

Evolved’s 4-day week is here to stay

09/03/2022
A 7 minute read

We are making a permanent switch to a 4-day working week following a hugely successful trial.

The news didn’t come as a surprise when we announced it to the team last month, as we’ve all seen and felt the benefits over the last six months, but there was every chance that the trial could fail when we first started out.

Our objective was to provide staff with a better work-life balance and increase productivity on client accounts to deliver better results. 

We’ve had to regularly review our key metrics, ask for feedback, and make changes as we learned to ensure this would be the right long-term decision for the agency.

I’m pleased to share that we’ve absolutely achieved what we hoped for and exceeded expectations in areas too. 

The headline results speak for themselves:

  • 100% of the team working a 4-day week are satisfied.
  • 100% of the team feel it has improved their personal wellbeing.
  • 100% of the team feel it has improved their work-life balance.
  • 96% of the team feel it has increased their overall job satisfaction.
  • 100% of the team feel that their productivity hasn’t dropped.
  • Higher productivity metrics than the same 6-month period last year.
  • Consistent productivity metrics to the 6-month period prior to the trial.

Work-life balance

There’s been a lot of discussions since the 4-Day Week Campaign hit mainstream news in the UK last month, with mixed responses to say the least.

There are already plenty of options when it comes to employee benefits and work-life balance, especially within agencies. These are all worthy offerings, whether it’s flexible hours, unlimited holidays, or time off in lieu (TOIL), or duvet days for mental health, but based on our experience now freeing up an entire day, each and every week, has proven to be the most successful initiative for genuine work-life balance. 

The move to a 4-day week shows genuine trust and commitment towards each individual member of our team and couldn’t reflect our internal culture any better. Our trial has contributed to many positives for our team. It has allowed us to focus on the bigger picture, we have seen a reduction in admin, and there’s a stronger focus on innovation. We have created new roles to support career development, celebrated many promotions into senior positions. Our overall stress levels have reduced, our learning and development hours have increased, and our eNPs scores are the highest they have been in four years and continue to climb.

Some of the team’s feedback includes:

  • Feeling less stressed.
  • Reduced feelings of burnout.
  • More time for self care and relaxing.
  • Being more connected with​​ family and friends.
  • Time for physical fitness/going to the gym.
  • Mental health benefits.
  • Better sleeping patterns/more sleep.
  • Better routine overall.

We also found that 92% of the team have been able to manage family, home, or caring responsibilities better and save money as a result, including:

  • More time for childcare
  • Reduced nursery fees
  • Looking after pets
  • Attending medical appointments
  • Supporting with running a home
  • Visiting parents or checking on family
  • Cleaning and DIY
  • Doing life admin

This feedback alone has shown us how worthwhile the change has been. It’s also been eye-opening to see how this not only affects our team, but their wider families, friends, and support networks too.

It’s not an exaggeration to say 4-day working has been life-changing! I am so much happier to have that extra day off to do the things I want to do. I get to spend more time with my partner, family, and friends. I have more time to enjoy my hobbies instead of rushing through them on the weekend. I can keep on top of boring life jobs, like cleaning and cooking, so I don’t waste any time when my partner’s home. I am so much happier and it’s not just me saying that – my partner, family and friends think so too!

The healthier work/life balance has improved my home life; including a better relationship with my partner and a stronger bond with my newborn son. As a result of these things, my stress levels are lower, my mind is clearer, and I feel I am able to produce better work.

Changing to a 4-day week has helped me understand the importance of working to live, as opposed to living to work. We are only here for a very short period of time, which makes spending time with friends and family so much more precious. Knowing that the company I work for wants me to have more of this time, is the most valued I have felt in my working life. The additional time to recharge gives you more energy throughout the week, and motivates you to work harder and more effectively to keep the process running smoothly.

The 4-day pilot has been brilliant. The extra day off allows me to sort any life admin, household chores, and errands so that they do not spill into my Saturday and Sunday. Weekends are purely for pleasure now, such as getting outdoors and exploring somewhere new, and spending quality time with loved ones. It’s certainly reduced the feeling of not having enough time and each week I still feel the excitement of an upcoming ‘Bank Holiday Weekend’. It’s bliss! I genuinely couldn’t imagine just having a two day weekend now.

Productivity

There were always going to be two sides to the trial and being a service-based business, success relied on everyone keeping up the same levels of output and results over a condensed week.

There are different ways to introduce 4-day working and we’re fortunate that our business model is straightforward, time in exchange for services. We opted to reduce contracted hours from 35 to 32 (4 x 8 hour days), with no loss of pay or other benefits, or people could choose to work this over 5 days if that suited them better.

We also wanted everyone to benefit from three-day weekends, rather than different days off throughout the week, so everyone could either choose Monday or Friday as their non-working day. This is scheduled in a rota each month to ensure there is adequate cover and clients still receive the same service five days per week.

Every business has its own deadlines and pressures to consider, regardless of the industry, and we felt that our team could free up at least 3 hours of their week and that we had enough cover across the team that client delivery and results could be maintained. This includes cutting unnecessary admin, streamlining processes, and focusing on outcomes (results) rather than just output (deliverables).

We’ve tracked several metrics that relate to productivity and efficiency over the last two years. From the trial we found that levels were higher compared to the same period last year (August 20 to January 21), and levels haven’t dropped since the trial started, with November 21 being our most productive month from the last 2 years. The crucial point is that we have achieved this despite everyone’s combined hours reducing by around 15%, with some of the team previously working more than their expected contracted hours.

The reasons for this according to our team include:

  • More focused on deadlines and prioritising better.
  • Working smarter – quicker and more efficient.
  • More energy to get things done.
  • More productive in the afternoons due to a longer day.
  • More motivation to get things done.
  • Improved general stress levels.

Working weeks don’t seem as long, there’s no ‘mid-week slump’ or ‘TGIF’ feeling. They’re productive, go quicker, and you feel more accomplished. Having the extra day means I can spend time with loved ones, do life-admin tasks that I struggle to get done during the week, or pick up some freelance work. I couldn’t imagine ever going back to working 5 days!

Working a 4-day week has really helped my motivation. Having that extra day to switch off and spend time with family and friends allows me to look forward to working after those few days off. I have found myself striving to do more in those four days at work, as it feels more manageable and fair. Overall, it has positively impacted both my personal life and working life dramatically and I am forever grateful to work at a company that sees the importance of this.

Moving to a four day work week has had a really positive impact on my sense of personal wellbeing and job satisfaction. You’re ready to hit the new week at full speed and remain productive, because you feel like you’ve had some proper time to fully recharge.

Working a four day work week has given me more control and freedom over my personal life without having any sort of negative impact on my work life. I am well-rested, happy, and more than prepared to come back to work the following week with a more productive and capable mindset. Stress levels are incredibly low and we are still producing the high-quality work expected of us.

What’s next?

There were without doubt challenges during the trial. Our usual processes and ways of communicating had to change immediately, and there were unexpected hurdles for 4-day working like Bank Holidays, the Christmas period, and planning annual leave, all of which has meant we’ve had to be even more flexible and productive than initially anticipated.

There’s a list of improvements to be made and we’ve had feedback from clients too, which will continue to be our focus going forward.

However, the impact this has had on everyone in our team is insurmountable and we have no doubts that more and more businesses will see the value in adopting a 4-day week in the future.

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