A year and a half later, Here’s how the Four Day Work Week at Buffer goes

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When we experimented with a four-day workweek, it was initially for one month. If our HUB, Joel Gascoignewrote in May 2020 when we first started the experiment, “This 4-day workweek period is about wellness, mental health and putting us as people and our families first.”

Joel’s announcement about the four-day work week in April 2020.

At the end of May, while we were collecting the data on how the experiment was going, we continued to work a four-day work week. In June, after seeing that the results were generally good for us, we switched to a four-day work week for the rest of 2020. Our team was surprised by these results, as we naturally expected reduced productivity with fewer working days . At that time we had chief of staff, Carolyn Koppraschwritten:

“Since the intention was to give temporary relief of typical expectations to teammates during a particularly difficult and unprecedented time, we did not set goals around productivity or results. In fact, we expected a tangible drop in productivity due to reduced hours.

However, as a result of increased rest and reflection, many of you shared that you felt that your weekly productivity was not really that different, and that your quality of work was higher while you experienced improved overall well-being. ”

Finally, at the end of 2020, we switched to a four-day workweek for the foreseeable future.

Now we are three months away from a four-day work week for two years. We recently conducted an internal survey to go into the Buffer team on how many days they work, whether they feel happier and more productive, and finally, whether they are able to get the job required of them, within four days to get completed.

Here are the results:

91% of our team are happier and more productive working four days a week

This is a wonderful piece of data for us – 91 percent of our teammates either agree or strongly agree that they are happier and more productive now that they are working a four-day workweek, as for the remaining nine percent, on the scale they all selected “neutral.”

This was our hope when we first started experimenting with a four-day workweek and we are delighted that it is still the impact almost two years later.

Most of our team only works four days a week

One of the most common questions we get is whether we are really work only four days a week, and now we have the data to say with confidence – yes, most of our team only work four days a week, or they choose to work five shorter days, which is an option that has several parents felt better families.

In our most recent survey, 73 percent of Buffer teammates work only a four-day workweek (or five shorter days which is an option). The remaining 27 percent said they work more than four days, people usually work four and a half days and use Fridays to catch up on tasks. On Fridays we do not schedule meetings and no communication via email, Slack or Threads is expected from our team. Some people do choose to use it as an “overflow” day and this is something we support as an organization, assuming it does not turn into overtime.

84% of our team are able to get all their work done in four days a week

Lastly, we also wanted to know if teammates feel that they can get all their work done in four days a week, and 84 percent of our team agree or agree that they are able to get the job required of them within four days to get completed. .
It was an adjustment as it is not easy to suddenly change the work week, so each team and teammate has experimented in recent years to adjust their work, projects, deadlines and expectations to be realistic with a four-day work week. There is always room for improvement, but we are pleased to see this number as high as it is at present.

We communicated to our team that we know that changing long-term habits and expectations of a five-day workweek will take time. After all, we’ve worked our entire careers with a five-day workweek paradigm.

So when we see answers in our survey about people who do not feel they can get all the work they need done within five days, it encourages us to question a few important things:

  • Is the workload reasonable for a 4-day work week?
  • Are these cases constant, or one-time due to urgent deadlines or big projects?
  • Is there feedback we can give to the individual or team to help streamline or work more efficiently?

We want the four-day workweek to apply equally to everyone, and since we apply it uniquely to different teams (like our advocacy team), we are open to creative solutions and repeat a flexible schedule.

A four-day work week, like distance work in general, requires teammates to trust to be honest about their work demands and workloads. It’s a dialogue between manager and teammate and something we encourage our company to keep repeating.

A question that comes up a lot with the four-day work week is whether there are any unexpected disadvantages or challenges.

We wrestled specifically with one: how connected we feel as a team when you have fewer hours in the work week to allow for casual conversations and team building activities.

In 2020, when we launched the launch, we deliberately reduced the number of hangouts and casual opportunities to leave room for productive work during the week. We still have one-to-two team-wide events each term such as All Hands of Town Halls with our Executive team and this is recorded for anyone who is unable to attend.

Our engagement scores have been declining since the beginning of 2021, which is somewhat linked to many, many factors, including team turnover, product direction, and external influences. One thing that has been highlighted in our surveys is the reduction in team building opportunities such as Zoom hangouts, guest speakers and personal events such as our refuge.

For 2022, we dive back to more purposeful team building, both asynchronously, synchronously, and the occasional personal encounter where available.

We still want to maintain a balance of productive work during our 32-hour work week, but also have some purposeful opportunities that are part of the larger building block of teamwork.

We will follow up with future blogs about things we have done in the past and initiatives we are trying for 2022!

Many companies are now exploring a four-day work week and encouraging their employees to be flexible and efficient in their work weeks. We’ve been asked by many companies to even start experimenting with a four-day workweek – and here are our best resources and steps to kick off a discussion or test!

  • We tested it on a small scale (one month), with a few key questions to measure success.
  • We then rolled it out after a 6-month trial, our team constantly researching and collecting objective productivity statistics (such as writing code lines, customer satisfaction numbers, etc.)
  • We worked with our customer service team to explain and finalize how we approach a four-day workweek. (We alternate days among our support staff so we still have 24/7 in our customer service inbox.)
  • At the end of seven months of a four-day work week, we felt enough momentum and positive response to commit to another year of a four-day work week, with additional explanations about using the 5th day as ” overflow “and performance expectations for this as an advantage.
  • After nearly two years, we have felt more confident than ever in our new systems, although we will continue to question, explore, and test different habits to work effectively and still bind as a company. We are still working on the ideal balance of team involvement and events within a shorter work week.

Even almost two years later, we still have a lot to learn about work four days a week. We will continue to share as we go, and we’d love to hear from you! What questions do you have about working a four-day work week? Send us a tweet!

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