So you’ve decided to implement a 4-day workweek. Now what?


Alpha Brand Media, a digital publisher, faced challenges in early 2022 due to the rapid growth of its business. The company struggled to keep up with demand and experienced disruptions in its infrastructure, workflows, processes, and policies. As a result, they began losing long-term employees. To address these issues, CEO Jenise Uehara implemented a counterintuitive solution - summer Fridays, where staff were given an extra day off every other week, and later transitioned to a four-day, 32-hour workweek.

Before implementing the new schedule, Uehara engaged her staff in a productivity-enhancing campaign focused on identifying and eliminating waste. Through this process, employees found various ways to improve efficiency, such as reducing meetings and approval layers. They also designated WhatsApp as the only platform for emergencies, allowing staff to ignore other notifications while working.

Uehara emphasized that the transition to a shorter workweek was not about expecting employees to accomplish the same workload in less time. Instead, it involved analyzing how and where time was spent to identify inefficiencies. She believed that reducing work time could actually lead to operational excellence by motivating employees to make necessary changes to processes.

Six months after implementing the four-day workweek as a trial, Alpha Brand Media decided to make the change permanent, along with the other companies that participated in the North American pilot program. According to 4 Day Week Global, the organization that ran the program, and researchers at Boston College, participants experienced a range of benefits, including better mental and physical health, lower absenteeism, and an average revenue boost of 15%. These findings were consistent with earlier trials conducted in the U.K., Europe, and Australasia.

Wen Fan, an associate professor at Boston College, highlighted the positive impact on employees, including reduced burnout, lower stress levels, and improvements in job satisfaction and life satisfaction. The benefits remained evident even at the 12-month mark, with job satisfaction still higher compared to before the trial.

While reducing work time may seem counterintuitive, experts suggest that the success of the four-day workweek lies in incentivizing employees to participate in productivity-enhancing initiatives. The transition requires careful planning, workshops, mentorship, and rethinking structural issues in how work is organized and carried out. When employees are involved in improving productivity and share in the benefits, they can achieve efficiency gains while increasing output.

The approach to productivity enhancement in the four-day workweek aligns with Agile and Lean ways of working, emphasizing streamlining and a stronger relationship between workers and employers. This shift establishes a new contract where workers are motivated to work more effectively when it results in a better work-life balance and reduced workload.

Overall, the evidence shows that a four-day workweek can lead to multiple benefits for both companies and employees, including improved productivity, revenue, employee well-being, and job satisfaction. However, it requires careful planning, participation, and a reevaluation of work processes to ensure its successful implementation.   

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