Sharing Our Four-Day Work Week Experience

#Wellbeing
Sep 09, 2021 · Blog
A sticky note on a pin board with 'Human-Orientated Company' written on it.

There was some exciting news for Scotland last week as their Government announced plans to trial a four-day week. This news came as music to our ears after our own four-day week trials over July and August were a great success! We want to share our experiences and hopefully encourage more sectors towards a four-day week.

If there’s one thing we all learned from the changes to the workplace because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s how much value we can gain from more time at home. As trailblazers in employee wellbeing and employee appreciation, we knew we had to give the four-day work week a shot. We did the research and discovered there was a huge amount of evidence to support the move to shorter work weeks. Microsoft Japan, for example, trialled a four day work week in August 2020 and saw work productivity shoot up by a whopping 40%.

Silhouette of people jumping with the sun setting in the background.
In our own HappyCo. feedback survey about how we found our new work life balance, 67% voted ‘Very Positive’ and 33% voted ‘Positive’. 💯

A YouGov survey from 2019 found that 63% of the British population are in support of a four day week but a new report has shown that percentage has risen to 80% – so what’s stopping you?!

Even though more businesses are making the correct steps with flexible working arrangements that have been proven to be more cost effective, time efficient and have improved workplace and wellbeing and employee productivity, it’s understandable if you are feeling hesitant. As an employer you might see a four-day work week as a risk, but there is a whole load of evidence to reassure you (including our own first-hand experiences!) But first, let’s look at the facts and answer some commonly asked questions.

Is a four-day working week better? Let’s find out…

How does a four-day week look?

While some companies have opted for compressed hours, which see employees work four days but completing their full-time hours by adding on an hour to their working day, a four-day working week is still a relatively new concept with a simple formula. A four-day work week works with fewer hours with only four days a week to improve work life balance, alleviate stress levels and improve employee wellbeing.

Does a four-day work week save money?

While some critics fear that a four day working week could cause havoc amongst an already fragile economy, research has shown that the benefits of a four day week without loss of pay outweighs the possible consequences. After surveying several businesses already using the four-day week, results revealed that those companies were making savings of almost £92 billion a year.

The same study also showed that more employees felt encouraged and supported to volunteer, learn and train. The wider economy was seen to benefit too, with 54% of employees spending their day off shopping and 39% eating in restaurants.

Could a four-day work week reduce carbon footprint?

A 2021 study from Platform London and the 4 Day Week Campaign has found that, in addition to benefits for our wellbeing and mental health, a four day working week could contribute to the fight against the global climate emergency. The findings showed that moving to a four-day week by 2025 could shrink the UK’s annual carbon footprint by 127 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Understandably, those savings would be a direct impact from fewer carbon-intensive commutes as well as reducing emissions from high-energy workplaces.

Does a four-day work week increase productivity?

After the success of their four-day week trial at Perpetual Guardian, founder Andrew Barnes now leads the growing movement to push for a four-day workweek with his 4 Day Week Global Foundation who fund research into the future of work and workplace wellbeing. They’ve concluded that 78% of employees with four-day weeks are happier and less stressed.

Many economists have pushed for a four day working week under the belief that productivity and happiness are closely linked and it has often been found that the happier someone is, the more productive they are. We didn’t need much persuading after we heard this!

Our Experience

Everyone is different. From the way we learn to the way we work; we all tend to have our own preferences and know what works best for us. We decided to survey our staff and find out what they made of the four-day work week. The main measurement of success for the trial was…happiness. Unsurprisingly, we all loved it!

The answer included from everyone when asked the question,

‘How did you feel going back to work after your extra day off?’

“HAPPY”

We really wanted to find out how we all spent our day off, and while our answers were all different and included ‘self-care’, ‘hobbies’, ‘self-development’ and ‘household chores’, there was one mutual activity we all got to spend more time doing with the help of our four-day week.

“family time”

Spending time with our family was great for us all, especially those of us with young children! Being with family helps to strengthening principles and improves overall mental health, promoting adaptability and resilience. Our Warehouse Manager, Laura, said spending time with her family really made a big difference to her week.

“My partner and I had a family games night at her parents on Saturday. I love having a work life balance that allows me to spend time with family and form close bonds. In previous careers I have usually worked a six-day week which resulted in me being too tired to do anything on my day off.”

Family time for us also includes all our fur friends (there’s a lot of them!), and one member of our team welcomed a tiny little bundle of fur into his home this month, so the shorter work week was perfect! We’ve been loving seeing little snippets of our Co-Founder Fraser’s new pup on our zoom meetings and are so glad the extra day has been beneficial for him.

“We’ve just got a puppy – her name is Olive – so not only does it make it easier for me and my partner to look after her, but it means we can go on adventures and really make the most of our growing family without it coming at a cost to my career or annual leave!”

An image of three polaroid photographs. One showing Olive, a black Cocker Spaniel puppy, one with Olive, Fraser and his partner and one with Olive on a dog bed.

We all agreed that one of the biggest positives of our four-day week trial was the extra time to recharge the batteries and properly rest. We also noticed that it made us even more thankful and appreciative of our workplace, with the added reminder that our mental health was being prioritised. Helen, our Events & Marketing Manager, is also a wellbeing advocate and teacher. She was thankful that the four-day week worked wonders for creativity and productivity throughout the week.

“I am really appreciative of this perk and it certainly motivates me to get the tasks done in four days to ensure you have that time for yourself during the long weekend. I feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to offer creativity and focus in a new week.”

Claire, our Logistics and Account Manager said,

“I think having a fully paid four-day work week is such an easy way for the employer to show appreciation and helps us feel invested in the company.”

I also felt very appreciative of my employers! I felt motivated to do more during my work week and I wanted to perform well because I knew that my work valued my mental health, something I’m very grateful for. Our Business Development manager, Stuart, agreed and said he felt more focused and eager to come back into work, adding that he appreciated the extra day even more one weekend…

“I went away on a stag do for a good friend of mine, and let’s just say it was a very different environment to a zoom call at 10am!”

I think we can all agree we often fancy a lie in on a Monday too! Fraser commented on how he felt the best part of a four-day week was the added time to spend on our lives outside of work.

“It doesn’t matter if that’s time to see friends and family, take a stroll through the shops or binge watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it’s just more time that you get to spend doing more of the things that you love!”

Our Verdict?

Would we like to have a four-day week again?

“YES”

HappyCo. team members pictured smiling with Edinburgh castle in the background.

We’ve all found the extra day off to be a huge enhancement to our lives and feel very lucky we work for a forward-thinking company like HappyCo.! It’s never too late to start putting your employees first, why don’t you start by asking them if a four-day week appeals to them? For more information and inspiration, you can check out our full answers to our four-day work week trial survey here.

If you aren’t quite able to adopt it yet, there’s plenty of other ways to show appreciation and recognise your employees – and we’re here to share all the best employee appreciation tips with you!


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