Four-Day Work Week: A Success Story for Productivity and Employee Wellbeing

Imagine telling someone your staff are the most productive they’ve ever been. The natural response would be, ‘How did you make them work more?’ But that’s not the case for my company. Our 1,300 employees across 17 offices globally are happier than ever because we implemented a four-day work week with full pay. And here’s the kicker: they’re producing the same amount of work, just in less time. This is why I believe companies should seriously consider a four-day work week – the results are undeniable.

We run a digital marketing platform, helping brands connect with larger audiences through performance-driven digital advertising. In 2021, we generated approximately £12 billion in sales for our clients. Needless to say, our team needs to be at the top of their game. But the pandemic in 2020 changed everything. As the world went remote, we witnessed the immense pressure on our employees, particularly those juggling parenting and homeschooling. The blurred lines between work and home life led to people starting earlier and finishing later. Something had to change.

We introduced “Family Fridays,” essentially a four-and-a-half-day week. We shut down operations on Friday afternoons, giving our staff time with their families to manage the pressures of COVID-19. For those without families, it was a chance to de-stress and catch their breath. The overwhelming response from our employees was overwhelmingly positive. After three months of monitoring performance, we discovered that the initiative had no negative impact whatsoever. There were no complaints about poor service, the company was thriving, and people were happier. What more could we ask for?

In January 2021, we decided to test the concept further. We launched a six-month trial of a four-day work week, with full pay for five days of work. We made it clear to our team that the success of this initiative depended on their commitment. We needed to maintain a five-day service because many of our clients operated on a traditional work week. Our teams rose to the challenge. Some took Fridays off, some Wednesdays, some Mondays – they rotated the days off within their respective teams. Not only did they manage to maintain the same workload, but they actually achieved more. We extended the trial for another year and then made it permanent. Why? Because it works! We’ve seen record-breaking performance levels, a significant increase in staff happiness, and a noticeable decrease in sick days. Where we could measure it, we observed the same or even greater levels of productivity under the four-day work week.

Many might argue that working fewer hours would lead to a decline in productivity, but that’s not what we found. People work smarter and achieve greater levels of productivity because they have more time to focus. It’s a powerful message to our employees: ‘We value your time and wellbeing, so we’re giving you back a day, with full pay.’ They responded by finding ways to become more efficient, and it’s been fantastic to witness.

But don’t just take my word for it. Our most recent staff surveys revealed that 86% of our employees feel more productive, 70% feel less stressed, and 70% believe the quality of their work has improved. In terms of overall wellbeing, 92% said the four-day work week helped improve their mental health, 94% reported an improvement in their work-life balance, and 87% said it helped them improve their physical health. They have complete freedom to choose what they do with their extra day off, and they use it in amazing ways. Some are pursuing master’s degrees, others are prioritizing exercise, and some simply spend more time with family. Whatever they choose, it’s making them happier and better employees. It’s a phenomenal transformation that translates into tangible results.

Importantly, 74% of our staff say they would now find it difficult to return to a traditional five-day work week. And why should they? Why should any of us? If you want to be a good employer, your employees need to know you care. We built a foundation of trust with our employees, which was essential to the success of this initiative. Many businesses operate from a place of mistrust, assuming employees are trying to take advantage or slack off. They feel the need to see their employees at their desks. If this mentality is ingrained in your company culture, this type of program will likely fail. But for businesses that operate from a place of trust, this is an incredible way to empower your employees with freedom and balance while maintaining high performance. Most people genuinely want to do a good job. We need to stop setting rules based on the few who don’t. The majority of staff want to progress in life, and when given the opportunity, they will find ways to work better and smarter.

And the impact goes beyond just employee satisfaction. Our employee retention has never been better, and our clients have reported a 25% increase in their satisfaction rate with our services. There’s been a lot of support for this change, even from our clients. I’ve had numerous meetings where clients brought their bosses to discuss the four-day work week, hoping to convince them to consider it for their own companies. Life has changed significantly since the five-day work week was introduced in the early 19th century. It’s time we embrace change and adapt to the needs of our modern workforce. If you have a story about your own company’s experience with shorter work weeks, we’d love to hear it! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top