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4 Day Week

If you’ve done something the same way for a long time, you can start to forget there are other, potentially better options. The standardised 5-day, 40-hour work week is a great example of that.

 

It means that most businesses don’t have to think about the hours employees are expected to work, or what a full-time contract should look like. Chances are, it’s 8 hours a day and if you’re lucky, Monday to Friday. That gets you 2 consecutive days to spend with friends and family, or doing whatever brings you happiness and some much needed relief from work. 

 

In 1926, Henry Ford – yes, the car guy – standardised the 5-day work week. Almost 100 years later, we all still nod and agree to it. Though this sounds worthy of a moan and shaky fist, he was in fact reducing it from 6 days, without any reduction in pay – so we probably have a bit to thank him for. Also, the industrial revolution, but we digress.

 

The thing is, society is evolving. We’re not industrial anymore. And for today’s business and planetary needs, we’re fast learning that 5 days is one too many.

 

The concept of the 4-day working week is simple: full-time employees work 4-days a week instead of 5 with no reduction in salary. 

Iceland was one of the first countries to actually do it. In 2015, they started a 4-year pilot program run by the government and various businesses as an experiment. And much to your delight (and obvs, the people of Iceland) – this reported very promising results. New Zealand, Spain, and Japan later got on board with the pilots, and according to the studies – workers reported anywhere from a 25% to a 40% increase in productivity.

 

Since then, 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to soon.

 

We’re not sure about you, but those numbers sound really bloody great. For us, the results we deliver for our partners are key. We wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise the relationships we’ve built or the trust we’ve earnt, so making changes that could potentially impact their service isn’t something to take lightly.

 

But honestly, it seems like a no brainer. If our teams are feeling more productive at work, they have less need to take sick days, spend more time with family and friends, spend less money on childcare and commuting (not to mention the emissions), and have a working schedule that’s genuinely flexible. Call us dreamers, but we think our output for that time when we’re actually clocked in will be drastically improved.

 

Not only that, The Centre for Economic and Policy Research has confirmed that reducing the length of the work week would slow climate change, and create other environmental benefits.

 

It’s no surprise that groups like the 4 Day Week Campaign have formed to lobby for government support, and the notion of the 4-day week has received support from several political groups, equalities bodies, and worker’s rights foundations. The idea was also included in the Labour Party manifesto during the 2019 election, where they pledged to move the country to a 4-day week by 2029.

Always open to trying cool things here at THRYVE, we thought we’d give it a go. Plus, 2029 and a potential Labour government seem pretty far away, and we’re conscious that our incredible team might want to up and leave for Iceland.

 

So, we’re trialling the Monday to Thursday work week with no reduction in pay and no increase in the hours worked on those days. We average about 8 right now, and that’s not going to go up.

 

We’re doing this for 2 main reasons:

 

  1. To prioritise the wellbeing, happiness, and health of our staff

  2. For productivity – we believe we can produce better results and delivery for our partners by being more focused and productive.

 

We’ve spent the best part of 2 years evaluating research and data, and we’ve spoken with a number of people who have trialled and implemented it for themselves, such as our good friend David Stone at MRL Consulting Group. At the same time, we’re under no illusions about possible challenges – but if something’s worth doing, challenge is par for the course.

 

And If it doesn’t work? We tried it and we’ll learn from it. But if it does? We’ve got a happier, healthier, more productive team.


Did we mention that we’re hiring, too?