Is a four-day working week the way of the future?

Web hosting firm Civo tell Business Leader why they’ve decided to trial a four-day in their business, and what those considering it should know.

Thoughts of four-day working weeks may seem like a fanciful idea, but if implemented correctly, it can be a great way to manage staff and bring about positive change to your business. Unilever is an example of a business who began trialling a four-day week in New Zealand towards the end of 2020. The Spanish government has also looked at trialling a four-day week this year, with the added benefit that employers wouldn’t lose money for implementing 32 hour weeks.

Here at Civo, we are also trialling a four-day week. Our staff can either opt to work Monday or Friday, with staff alternating and five-day cover secured. For an understanding of how we came to trial this, it should be noted that nearly 50% of our staff are based abroad. This made us realise that a shift towards a flexible model of working was the correct move. The timing also seemed right, with hybrid working becoming more commonplace because of the pandemic.

Throughout this trial period, we have been measuring how well the four-day week benefits us as a business. This will allow us to see if it should be more of a permanent change to our working model. And although we have decided to trial this, staff are still given the choice to work five days – some people simply prefer that routine. If a four-day week is to work permanently, everyone in the business must be fully committed to it, which is why we are flexible with those wishing to still work their normal hours.

Please find below how our business is finding our four-day week trial so far, as well as factors to consider if your business is interested in this too. We are taking a variety of different steps to measure the success of the trial at Civo. These include areas like employee happiness with this new way of working, as well as tracking if our team continues to meet project deadlines.

The four-day week experience

One of the concerns many companies face when considering whether to implement a four-day week is ensuring staff are continuing to do the work expected of them. Since implementing this at Civo, our experience has been that everyone is very transparent, and making sure that all the work is still done within the time allowed. It requires a great degree of trust.

We have given staff more flexibility in how they work, as well as what they choose to focus on. This creates happy employees who respect the trust given to them by us as employers. It also empowers them to be their own boss, a style of management we are on the cusp of with this new four-day week.

This isn’t to say that workloads didn’t need to be looked at though. We have found that meetings are far less frequent and shorter, and day-to-day operations are very different. To pack all the work into four days, processes need to be efficient, with staff focusing on their own work rather than being pulled into excessive calls or unnecessary emails.

The implementation of the four-day week has gone down amazingly with our staff, who love the flexibility it offers. And because staff have more time to spend with their families on their days’ off, we have found that they are more switched on during the time that they do work, which in turn benefits the business.

As well as these benefits, a four-day working week appeals during recruitment. It increases our ability to attract new talent – a huge asset for us in today’s highly competitive labour market. As we enter a new phase of working, where the term ‘hybrid work’ is now becoming more commonplace, a four-day working week could be what businesses need to shine.

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