Friday Pulse has always been about making the world of work better.
However, COVID-19 made it difficult for everyone (even us) to find
the right balance in work/life. Working from home is the new normal for
many, and yet it comes with a cost. Work-life balance has not improved.
Our data confirms this: work-life balance has deteriorated across all
of our clients and isn’t bouncing back.
A poor work-life balance is a strong predictor of burn out, as well as long-term loss of
productivity and innovation. It is a critical metric for businesses to
track and is one of the 15 topics that we measure in our quarterly
Culture Profile for
Here at Friday Pulse, our score dropped dramatically from a pre-COVID
average of 88 to a score of 67, as the outbreak continued. Our score was
high because it’s a topic we take seriously – we encourage employees
only to work 40 hours a week, and to take their holidays.
But the pandemic has made this all much harder. So, we have decided to
do something many will find radical – we are switching to a four-day
This is a solution that will not suit everyone. However, we do think
every business should be thinking hard about finding their ‘right
balance.’ There is a long way to go before the return of normality and
that “next normal” will be different regardless, in many significant
ways – one of which will inevitably be more working from home.
In this post, you’ll see how a four-day workweek could help you. Again,
it’s not a solution for everyone, but it might be the drastic shift that
your organization needs to think about.
First, a look at some data.
Work Life Balance Stats: The Impact of COVID-19
In the chart above, you can see that across all of our clients, the average work-life
balance score was 72 before lockdown, which then dropped to 66. Even
now, while happiness scores are improving, work-life balance scores have
It’s been a few months since those darkest times but the whole course of
events started us thinking: what could we improve?
It was a podcast featuring Alex Soojung Kim Pang, author of Shorter: How Working Less Will
Revolutionise the Way Your Company Gets Things Done, that was inspirational to
our Founder & CEO, Nic Marks in answering this question.
What a 4 Day Workweek Can do For You
A four-day workweek is somewhat radical, but not a new thing. A growing
number of firms in the UK and internationally are experimenting with the format. It’s
not limited to spunky start-ups either. Companies like Microsoft in
Japan switched to a
four-day schedule and found a 40% increase in productivity and a 23%
decrease in electricity use. Even countries like New Zealand and Finland have suggested
employers switch to the four-day work week to address persistent
work-life balance issues.
There are different ways of approaching a four-day week. While some
firms opt for a compressed schedule that squeezes a 40-hour week into
four days, we are adopting a ‘true’ four-day workweek means that
employees’ clock in 32 hours each week. Yes, there is less time to work
with, but the benefits are immediate.
More time for you
Time is one of our most valuable commodities. A shorter workweek means
more time. All the salary in the world doesn’t compensate for lost time.
In our busy world and schedules (especially with uncertainty around
schooling for children), time means families can juggle childcare and
work much better.
Shorter workdays also reduce the number of sick days taken and having a
three-day weekend every week is essentially an additional 52 days of
time off. So, what kind of effect does all that time have on people?
With “less” time to get things done, employees are more focused and
companies can reap a bump in productivity right away. Work becomes less of a ‘face
time’ affair and is respectful of people’s time. Meetings are on point.
With extra rest and leisure time, people aren’t limping to the finish
line on a Friday afternoon.
While many companies are still working from home, a reduced workweek
also reduces the costs of running the office and commuting – and let’s
be honest, a lot of time is wasted in the office. Without this, overhead
costs should go down together with reduced environmental impact. Just
the sort of win-win situation Nic covered in his TED talk 10 years ago.
Are You Ready For a Four-day Workweek?
Not every company is ready for a transition into a four-day workweek.
However, here are some of the considerations we went through in deciding
if we were ready. We hope these policies help you as you think about the
Keeping track of time
The question we had to answer was, “how do we spend our workday?” Time
is the most precious commodity in a four-day week. When we were trying
to make this decision, we kept time diaries to track how we were
spending our time. We looked at what was essential, what added the most
value, and what kind of downtime we had.
Trim the fat
What could we cut? Concerned with efficiency and productivity, we looked
at the length of meetings, how we could give people uninterrupted time
to work, and the activities that added the most value.
As a result, we’ve reduced the number of meetings we’re having. We’re
also capping the number of people in a meeting to make sure that it’s more focused and we’re
getting the most interaction out of people.
Rotating schedule and Communication
One thing we wanted to make sure we continued was our quality of service
to customers, every day of the working week. It’s clear that not
everyone can have a Friday off — some would have to have Mondays or
other days off, instead.
To make things easier on ourselves, we settled on what channels we were
going to use to communicate with each other and who would be “on-call”
if anything happened. To ensure that people had time to focus on their
work instead of fielding questions all day, we determined an ‘office
hours’ set up for everyone that they were available and online to answer
questions and interruptions.
Join Us on this Adventure
Like many of you, we’re working on improving our happiness
scores. Over the next few months, we’ll be paying careful attention to
the impact of a four-day working week on our happiness and work-life
scores on the Friday Pulse platform. We’ll be reporting back in the
next few months to discuss the things we learned from this transition.
How Friday Pulse Can Help Your Organization
Our people platform asks employees how they feel at work. Throughout
this ongoing pandemic period, that question has never been more
vital. That’s why we are continuing to offer companies and teams (50 –
1,000 employees) free access to our people platform for 12 weeks. To find out more
please contact our Head of Helping People, Clive Steer at