Why we’ve introduced a 4.5 day working week

Grace French
Written by Grace French

Tags: culture leadership PR

As the rulebook of the working week gets rewritten, at Stand we continue to explore how we can evolve and strengthen our culture. We want to maintain an environment which allows us to deliver our best work and where everyone can reach their full potential.

As part of this, we’ve trialled different ways to achieve an optimal work-life balance – this has always been a focus for us, but the pandemic has demonstrated just how much we can push the boundaries. We’re firm believers in seeing our colleagues as people, not just employees, and have spent time to understand what helps them feel fulfilled at work and beyond.

Initially, we trialled a 9-day fortnight (giving everyone a day off each fortnight). Following an assessment, feedback, and consultation with everyone at Stand, we’ve now evolved into a 4.5-day week where everyone finishes at 1pm on Fridays. This shift was made to increase efficiencies and comradery – everyone is working towards the same goal and the same deadline, and back-end processes are streamlined as a result.

We’ve received some great feedback on this so far, with colleagues pleased about having more time to pursue their interests and hobbies outside of work, and many saying it has enabled them to get a head start on the week.

As businesses, we have a duty to support our colleague’s wellbeing. And, as many studies have shown, this can also improve business performance, recruitment, and retention, as allowing people more head space enables them to bring their full selves to work. A study in the 2021 Glint Employee Wellbeing Report showcased this, by revealing that 31% of employees at organisations with a strong work culture are more likely to recommend it to others.

Organisations should embrace change – those who don’t will be left behind in a competitive labour market. However, it’s important to also examine what works best for your organisation and your people. The answer to doing so lies in interrogating your organisational goals and listening to your colleagues. For example, when we initially implemented the 9-day fortnight, we had to carefully plan from the get-go to avoid any potential pitfalls. When looking at behaviour change mechanics – if you introduce a 4-day week, people will be invested in making it permanent. This could manifest as an initial increase in productivity as people go above and beyond to show it works in practice. Then over time, as the novelty wears off, productivity could wane. To prevent this from happening during our 9-day fortnight trial, we communicated to our colleagues how long the trial would be, the type of feedback we were looking for, and the metrics we were assessing. By making clear it was a trial from the onset, it allowed us to build into its flexibility and to naturally evolve it into the 4.5-day week, with buy-in from our team.

While redefining the traditional working week comes with its challenges, the pandemic proved that we could adapt to seismic shifts in workplace practices – for the benefit of both employees and business practices. Instead of springing back to how things were before, we must embrace the positive changes that have come about as we adapt to post-pandemic life.

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