src=”https://buffer.com/resources/content/images/2022/01/simon-berger-twukN12EN7c-unsplash.jpg” alt=”A Year And a Half Later, Here’s How The Four Day Workweek is Going at Buffer”>
It was initially only for one month that we tried a four-day workweek. Joel Gascoigne, our CEO, stated in May 2020 that the 4-day workweek was about “well-being, mental and family health” and that it would be for a month.
While we collected data about the experiment’s success, we worked a 4-day week until the end of May. After confirming that the results were good, we switched to a 4-day work week for 2020. These results surprised our team, who had expected a lower productivity due to fewer workdays. Carolyn Kopprasch (our Chief of Staff) wrote that the results were unexpected.
“The intention was to provide temporary relief to colleagues during a difficult and unique time. We did not set any goals for productivity or results. We expected a decrease in productivity from reduced hours.
Many of you feel that your week productivity is not as high and that you are more productive.
We decided to shift to a 4-day workweek in the end. This will continue until 2020.
We are now three months away to having had a four-day workweek in two years. Recently, we conducted an internal survey with Buffer to see how the team feels about their workdays, how productive they are, and if they can complete the work in the four days required.
These are the results
91% Our team is happier and more productive when they work four days per week
This data is great for us: 91 percent of our colleagues agree or strongly agree they are happier and more productive if they work a 4-day workweek. The remaining nine percent of the respondents were all given “neutral” on the scale.
This was our goal when we started out with a four day work week. We are thrilled to see that it is still an impact almost two years later.
Our team works only four days per week
We get asked a lot of questions about whether we are actually working only four days per week. Now we have data that allows us to confidently answer — no, most of our team work only four days per week. However, some parents feel five days is better for their families.
According to our latest survey, 73% of Buffer teammates work a 4-day workweek. However, there are five shorter days that can be used. 27% of the remaining respondents said they work more than 4 days a week. Others may choose to work four and a quarter days and then use Fridays as a rest day. We don’t schedule meetings on Fridays and expect no communication via Slack, email, or Threads from our team. Some people choose to use it as an “overflow day”, and we support that as an organization, provided this does not turn into overworking.
84% Our team can complete all their work in just four days
We also wanted to find out if our teammates believe they can complete all their work in four days per week. 84 percent of our team agreed or strongly agreed that they can do the work in four days.
It has been difficult to change workweeks suddenly. Each team member and their teammate have experimented over the years to adjust their work, deadlines and expectations. They now work with a four-day week. We know there is always room to improve, but this number is as good as it gets.
We have communicated with our team that changing long-standing expectations and habits from a five day work week will take time. We’ve all worked with a five day workweek for most of our careers.
When we get responses from our survey that people don’t feel they can do all their work in five days, it prompts me to ask a few key questions:
- Is it reasonable to expect a 4-day workweek?
- These are recurring instances or one-offs due to pressing deadlines or large projects.
- Are there any feedback that we can give to the team or individual to streamline or improve efficiency?
We believe the four-day workweek should be applicable to all equally. Since we apply it uniquely to different teams (such as our advocacy team), there are many creative options and flexible scheduling options.
Remote working requires that teammates trust each other enough to openly discuss their work and work schedules. This is a conversation between manager and teammate, and one we encourage our company’s to continue to iterate.
What we are tackling in 2022
The question of whether there are unexpected drawbacks or challenges is something that comes up frequently with the four-day workweek.
One question has been weighing on our minds: How connected do we feel as a group when there are fewer hours per week to allow for casual conversations or team-building activities?
When we launched the pilot in 2020, we intentionally reduced the number of casual events and hangouts to make room for more productive work during the week. Each quarter, we still hold 1-2 team-wide events such as All Hands and Town Halls with the Executive team. These are recorded for anyone who is unable to attend.
Since the beginning of 2021, our engagement scores have declined (employee Net Promoter Score went from 33 to 19). This is due to many factors such as team turnover, product direction and external influences. Our surveys have shown that there has been a decrease in the number of team-building events like Zoom hangouts, guest speakers and in-person events, such as our retreat.
We’ll be resuming intentional team-building in 2022 both asynchronously and synchronously.
While we want to keep our 32-hour work week productive, we also need to have purposeful events as part of the bigger building block of team connection.
We will continue to blog about past activities and new initiatives for 2022.
How do you begin?
Many companies are exploring the possibility of a four-day work week and encouraging their employees to be more flexible and efficient. Many companies have asked us how to experiment with a 4-day workweek. Here are our top resources and steps to get started!
- It was tested on a very small scale for one month, with some key questions as a measure of success.
- The 6-month pilot trial was then extended. We continued to survey our team and collect objective productivity statistics (e.g., lines of code written, customer satisfaction, etc.).
- We refined and clarified how we approach a 4-day work week with our customer service team. We alternate days between our support staff to ensure that we have 24 hour access to our customer support inbox.
- After seven months of a 4-day workweek, we felt enough momentum to agree to one year of four-day workweeks. We also clarified the use of the fifth day as “overflow” as well as performance expectations.
- We feel more confident than ever about our new systems after nearly two years. However, we will continue to survey and question different ways to work efficiently and bond as a company. We are still trying to find the right balance between team engagement and events in the midst a shorter workweek.
We still have much to learn even after almost two years. We will continue to share our experiences and welcome your feedback. Do you have any questions about a 4-day work week? We’d love to hear from you!
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