Since we first started the four-day work week in May 2020, people have had a lot of questions about it. What day do we take off? How long will we continue with this practice? Do everyone really work four days a week or do some people work more?
Some of the answers to these questions have changed in the last few months, and I’m sure some will continue to change and evolve as we learn more about work within four days of the work week. I just decided to answer questions about our four-day work week policy on Twitter and I got a fantastic answer. I’ve included a high-level summary in this post, but feel free to check it out whole thread if you want to see every answer.
Without delay, here are some questions I got about a four-day work week organized into a few of the best categories, along with my answers and those Caryn Hubbard, our Vice President of Finance, and Åsa Nystrom, our vice president of customer advocacy, who contributed in several responses.
Why a 4-day work week?
Pranay asked: Why was a pandemic needed for implementation and why is a four-day work week important – can’t it just be about the job itself instead of the weather?
We’ve been thinking about it for years and I deeply believe that 5-day work weeks aren’t necessarily optimal. The pandemic meant additional stress for all of us, especially for the parents on the team. I wanted to get through it with the team, mentally, in the best position.
I believe that there are many companies that squeeze every drop they can get out of their companies in terms of profit, productivity, etc. Suddenly she ran into problems in a pandemic. Achieving growth goals without a profit margin meant firing many companies.
And when you lay off employees, you significantly undermine the trust of your team. It can take years to come back. I wanted to build trust with my team through the pandemic. This was one of the best ways to do it.
How does it work?
Niel asked: Do everyone take the same day off? Or does it depend on the individual? Or is it based on teams? Or something more nuanced?
We initially experimented with the teams deciding the day, but knowing which day and having enough time to work with each other was a challenge. Honestly, I felt pretty chaotic. We now also work Fridays in addition to advocating for customers who rotate the day.
Shubham asked: What 4 days a week do you work? M – TH or Tu – Fr or something else? Do you think the team is trying to fit in 5 days of work in 4?
We do M-TH for most of the team. At first I tried Wednesday as a day off, and enjoyed it, but now I prefer Friday. Three-day weekends are very powerful. I think in general, the team is trying to work smarter. You may be trying to fit 4.5 days into 4.
David asked: woah I didn’t know you were doing this – I like what would be your reason to come back for 5 days?
The reasons would probably be failure to meet our goals, which would be unfortunate because I basically don’t believe that investing hours will lead to that.
And one key thing is that over time we realized that 4 days should feel like a privilege, not a right. So, if you do your tasks and goals for this week, great – take that day off. If you haven’t done enough to achieve your goals, spend part of Friday working.
Scott asked: Do you work type 4, 10? Or do you not follow the exact hours, preferring to exit and move?
Not tracking accurate hours and more focus on tracking results. The goal is to achieve the same, if not more, in fewer total hours worked (more in line with 4 8).
Gaya asked: That is great! Hopefully this will be followed by more companies that will normalize it. Q: Did the salaries stay the same? I know people who slow down to work less because of pay cuts
No salary changes in Buffer with our 4-day work weeks. Less hours for the same salary. I don’t believe in the same hours in fewer days, because for me, 4-day work weeks are actually a more fundamental belief that the hours spent are not related to results.
Stone asked: I love that you did this! Do you also build a job or do you not have meetings? Do you think the pandemic was necessary for the transition / will you keep it when the offices reopen? How sure are you that people don’t work for 4 days longer or actually take a Friday off?
We have talked for many years and focused on deep work, and many teams have a day without meetings. I don’t think a pandemic was needed for that, but it was a motivator. I am convinced that we will continue to do so later. We are already 100% away, so there are no real offices.
I’m sure in most cases people take a free Friday. In this regard, we also do not actively discourage work on Friday if a team member deems it necessary to achieve our goals. We have great ambitions in terms of what we can do for clients * and * innovate culture.
How do certain teams and teammates manage a 4-day work week?
She asked Dwi: Do you have mothers who work as permanent employees? If the working hours increase for those 4 days – how do they manage? I know it depends on them, but just curious. Women get hit – TIME in Covid. (For example: really yours)
From Caryn: We have many mothers and fathers in Buffer. Our transition to the flexibility of a four-day work week was one of the most important things that kept my 5-member family healthy and safe last year. Trust and flexibility in a schedule that works for me and my family is everything.
From Joel: To add to the great insights Caryn shared, we had our decision to try 4DWW only with our parents in mind. Working hours have not increased. We work as a team to strive to achieve goals without regular work. More here.
Mark asked: Does customer support participate in a 4-day week? If so, how to schedule working hours / meet customer expectations?
Yes, they are, but we still want to serve clients at the same high level. Over time, we have improved our 4-day work week to make ourselves work hard in 4 days and feel like we really deserve that day off, and we have no right to that.
Our customer support team is the only team that shifts the day off to make sure we maintain customer coverage.
Stefan asked: Do customer teams also work 4-day work weeks? If so, do everyone work on Fridays? If so, isn’t the user’s email / calls answered by Monday?
No, we need to take a slightly more unified approach in our customer support team. We are fully committed to providing world class services and we know that MF works world class (even on weekends). A certain day is different for a team member, so there is more of a relay in that team.
Did you all have trouble handing over one team member to another in this relay system?
From Like: He jumps in to help with this q. No problem! We work in four-day blocks and use the assigned inbox flow to maintain consistency in communicating with clients. Our team covers most of the world and constantly communicates throughout the week to keep up to date with issues etc.
Jean asked: Do you have a strong customer support team in terms of number of people? Do you apply this formula to the technical team as well?
Our customer support team numbers 21 people out of 85. All teams adopt a four-day work week, but we also have goals to strive for and see Day 5 as something earned without rights.
Mercer continued: Does this mean that your support team doesn’t always get the same rest time? How do you try to protect the time of your client-oriented teams (who so often don’t have the same blessings as other teams around them)?
It’s not necessarily that different for our support team, but it’s often more measurable for the support team. So we want to be aware of that. But we also have engineering teams that will work the fifth day if they don’t feel right. Most teams now work 4 days.
From Like: Everyone on the CS team works a 4-day block and has the same days off every week to make sure we have the same ability to shut down and recharge! Just because we’re customer-oriented doesn’t mean we can’t participate in such company initiatives, it just means we have to plan a little more.
Sllyllyd asked: Do senior team members stay for four days?
In general, yes. Often senior team members feel the greatest responsibility and energy to achieve goals, so sometimes we work an extra day to make sure we are on the right track. This is not the norm though, and when we do it it is usually only a few hours.
From Caryn: There is a high level of flexibility and confidence that we will meet our common and individual goals without the schedule that suits us best. As a 3 year old mother, my needs look different from my peers, but I am progressing with that mutual respect and trust. Sometimes I choose to work for 5 days.
How is it going?
Daniel asked: What’s better than you expected? What’s worse than you expected?
Better: An extra day creates time for reflection for which we often leave no room, where many of us solve problems. So in many ways we do more significant work.
Harder: Purpose becomes even more important. We need to feel motivated to do a great job in the precious 4 days we have.
Purpose at the organizational level or at the individual level?
Both. Especially with the last year we had. The real magic is when the purpose of an organization feels intertwined with a personal sense of purpose, something worthwhile that can really be done afterwards can change. If the purpose of an organization seems to serve society, an individual purpose usually follows.
Jesse asked: Do people work so hard? Do you have an hourly staff?
We don’t have employees by the hour, which is important. This is not less hours for a lower salary, it is less hours for the same salary. In terms of productivity, it’s hard to measure in this wild year we’ve had. But things look promising. Philosophically, I believe we can achieve so much.
Awesome. Are people happier and more excited to come to work? Strengthening morale? Did you see that leveled off?
Yes, to all that! You did it. We haven’t felt that level yet, there’s still a ton of gratitude for 4-day work weeks of 9 months or more.
André-Paul asked: What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in your team? Are there any new routines / behaviors / processes?
Well, there is definitely a new level of gratitude. We’re here, trying out this wild thing and getting this extra day for family or ourselves. This is great. And with that, feeling along with gaining flexibility, giving flexibility as well.
What I mean by gaining flexibility and giving flexibility is, especially as a global team, that we need to be open to meetings occasionally in the morning or late at night, for everything to happen. Especially with a four-day work week.
So, renewed feeling, we are happy to have extra freedom, but let’s be smart in the way we work to make 4-day work weeks really work for us as a company and for clients, so we can have them still.
Ali asked: Has the combustion rate decreased?
It’s hard to measure, but I believe it is. Or rather, 2020 was a year that led to much more burnout than most years, and we partially reduced the amount by applying a four-day work week.
Michelle asked: I can always find more work. Are people self-disciplined enough to really take advantage of a free Friday and are they good enough to know how much they can really do in a week or set too high goals and usually end up on a Friday?
Great question. I think it’s somewhere in the middle. I honestly think most people now take free Fridays. But we still have big ambitions as a company, so from time to time we have to work on Fridays. The real magic is when a free Friday helps you really do more.
Luthfur asked: How do you measure productivity? In other words, how do you intend to make a decision about whether it is going well or not.
In the end, we will make a decision based on whether we achieve our goals as a company. I basically believe that a 5-day work week is a relic of the industrial age and is not necessarily the most efficient way to work. So I believe we can achieve our goals in 4DWW.
One of the advantages we have is that investors do not control our company. We can make long-term views and decisions that we believe will lead to great results over time.
If you or your team are trying a 4-day work week send me a tweet to share how you are doing, I would love to hear about it!
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