How to initiate a four-day week
The 4 Day Week Campaign recommends a six-month trial if there are concerns about a permanent commitment and, as Neil Knowles, creative director of London-based Elektra Lighting, pointed out, you can always revert to five days if four isn't working.
"You don't have to think about 'forever'," he said, "because it's reversible. When we started a four-day week back in 2019, we said we would review it after months one, three and six, because it was possible that we'd completely messed up here. We actually wrote in our new contract that we would go back to a five-day a week if it wasn't working."
The way that four-day weeks play out can differ greatly between organisations. The Elektra team, who retained their pay levels, were given every Friday off. Closing the office on a Friday wasn't a problem for clients, said Neil, because his firm's work is very much project based. The business charges a fixed fee and then delivers on an agreed date.
Additionally, a member of the team can be made available if necessary for a Friday client meeting in much the same way they would avail themselves for a Saturday or a Sunday meeting. Most clients, Neil said, have been very supportive.
This article is part four in our series on the four-day week. In the series, you'll learn what the four-day week is, the main motivations for implementing it and how to measure and track its success. You can see other articles in the series at the bottom of this page.
“When we started a four-day week back in 2019, we said we would review it after months one, three and six, because it was possible that we'd completely messed up here. We actually wrote in our new contract that we would go back to a five-day a week if it wasn't working.”
Neil Knowles, creative director of Elektra Lighting
Open every day
For Rachel Garrett at CMG Technologies, the four-day week works slightly differently. "Before we did it, everybody was working a 40-hour week over five days," she remembered. "We condensed this down to four days, reducing everybody's time to 35 hours, while retaining their pay."
CMG is open seven days a week, with structures in place so that each end of the week is covered in every department. "So we have people who work Mondays to Thursdays, Tuesdays to Fridays and then we have a weekend shift to work Friday to Monday," Rachel revealed. "We've got full coverage throughout the whole week."
Andrew Dipper and the streamGo team currently get Friday afternoons off, with the whole of Friday anticipated within a few months. The staff's salaries, benefits and perks will remain at the same level as when they worked five days.
To ensure the move didn't leave a trail of disgruntled customers, streamGo's management team made sure that they contacted them to explain why they were doing it. They also summed up what they were doing on the staff's email signatures as a back-up.
"Quite a few of our customers have shown an interest in implementing it themselves," said Andrew.
One thing the 4 Day Week Campaign highly recommends is that leaders consult with employees before rolling out a four-day week. Rachel at CMG agreed with this recommendation. "You have to get staff buy-in and get their input into how it's going to be structured," she said. "Ensure that people understand they aren't losing money and talk to them about the benefits that it can potentially bring."
She also feels that flexibility is key. Some members of her team are working parents, and they preferred five shorter days instead of four full ones. "I guess a better way to look at what we're doing is that it is a reduced-hours week," she said.
“You have to get staff buy-in and get their input into how it's going to be structured. Ensure that people understand they aren't losing money and talk to them about the benefits that it can potentially bring.”
Rachel Garrett, managing director at CMG Technologies
Neil at Elektra Lighting also made sure that staff were onboard with the change. "We sat down and agreed a lot of things – such as what happens if you want to have time off because you're having a boiler serviced and all that 'life' stuff," he said. "What we decided was that our time was now much more precious, so if you wanted to do those things you'd have to do it on a Friday when we're not working – and if you didn't want to do that then you'd have to take time off."
He can't stress enough the importance of hammering out every point with employees. "We had to adjust the number of holiday days down from 20 a year to 16," he said, "and I had to get everyone to agree to that. You might think that would be straightforward given that everyone was getting every Friday off, but actually it wasn't."
It's for reasons like this that the 4 Day Week Campaign urge companies to ensure the human resources side of the business are involved from the very start.
Now that they are several years into their respective four-day week schemes, neither Neil nor Rachel can imagine ever going back. "Since we've done it, we've seen significant improvements in productivity and staff morale," revealed Rachel. "Everybody's really motivated to achieve targets and hit deadlines within those four days."
It's true that people are having to work "smarter", she said, and there's a need for everyone to be a lot more organised, too. These are the fuel, in many ways, for increased productivity – and most employees seem happy to surrender water cooler chat in exchange for a three-day weekend.
Learn more about the four-day week
You can revisit the previous articles in our series below:
Read the next article in our four-day week series here: