Companies around the world have been trying out four day working weeks and say it’s made their staff happier, healthier and more productive. The whole idea has been getting a lot of coverage recently and whole countries (namely Finland and Scotland) are considering making it official policy.
So, following in the footsteps of Microsoft, The Wellcome Trust and many others, we recently offered a four day week to one of our animation team to see how it would work for them
At Distant Future Animation Studio our Senior Animator, Lauren Sharman, recently moved onto a four-day week. Lauren had been working 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday, but changed her hours to 7.30am – 5pm Monday to Thursday. This allows her to have Fridays off and extends her weekend to 3 days.
“Having the extra day allows me to fit in visits to family, get to appointments and keep on top of household chores. Before, I was trying to fit these things in during my lunch break or a Saturday and Sunday. This was quite stressful and I felt I wasn’t really getting any down time which affected my mood and my quality of work”
“My extra day off is great and means I can go and enjoy my weekend without the guilt of a full wash basket or an un-hoovered floor. It means I can disconnect from work properly and have some real down time. I can now sit and relax before thinking about what’s to do Monday.”
Lauren feels that as she is an early-bird, starting at 7.30am is better use of her energy in the mornings by not having to wait till 8 – 9 am to start work. Being a project manager, she sometimes found it hard to gather and assess where a project was while she was being interrupted with questions and calls. Starting early means she can now gather her thoughts on what needs doing in the day, who’s doing it and where the project is at before people come into work. She has found this promotes a better, more organised work flow resulting in better productivity.
According to the studies, over half of UK workers want a four-day week. Fridays are also seen as a day of unproductivity as many people effectively start their weekend mid-way through Friday. The motivation behind moving to a four-day week is the benefits it offers to employees and companies alike.
Other suggested benefits of changing to four-day week include the following:
- Workers spend one day less commuting and hence create less pollution from vehicles.
- Reduction in company costs as there will be a one-day reduction each week in energy use.
- Fewer sick days being taken.
- Boost to communities as workers are more likely to use their free time to engage with community groups or charitable organisations in their area.
It is also seen as a benefit to family-life. Workers are effectively given an additional day to attend necessary appointments or take a family member to similar appointments. It frees up time for all the mundane household tasks leaving more leisure time to spend with the family or on healthy activities.
A four-day week will not suit all industries particularly where customers expect five, six or even seven-day face-to-face contact. While this may help with unemployment figures as more people will need to be employed to cover the other 3 days, it could result in an additional cost to companies by having to employ the extra staff.
For digital companies like Distant Future the transition to a four-day week is relatively easy allowing them to look after their staff as well as their clients.
References and image attribution
Feature Image: Business photo created by yanalya – www.freepik.com