Why We Adopted a 4-day Work Week

When, at Friday Pulse, we realized that the pandemic wasn’t ending any time soon, we knew we needed to do something for our team. With people feeling overworked and on the brink of burnout, we switched to a 4-day work week to astounding results. Here’s a look at what happened.

Why We Adopted a 4-day Work Week

We moved to a 4-day week over a year ago and, in doing so, joined the ranks of a growing number of organizations. So, how did it go for us? 

With less time to work, our people are both happier and more productive. It’s an adaptation that not just suited the needs of our people, but also our organization. 

At Friday Pulse we don’t just help clients with employee wellbeing, we also strive to make our own workplace better. Like so many of our clients that use our platform, we’ve improved our own employee experience and unlocked greater productivity through tracking our happiness scores. 

The 4-day work week has been in the news a lot lately because it’s becoming an increasingly attractive option. And, with a pilot scheme currently being trailed by 30 UK companies to measure the impact on productivity and wellbeing, we can now report on what we’ve experienced: 

  • 80% of our people said that they were now more efficient in managing their time 
  • 100% reported better work-life balance
  • 80% were more productive
  • 75% said the new work week reduced unnecessary meetings
  • 100% were in favour of continuing with a 4-day work week 

With more free time for hobbies, volunteering and family, and unlike other wellbeing initiatives, our staff continue to describe it as a “privilege” and the “gift that keeps on giving.” 

Why we changed

We realized in 2020 that the pandemic wasn’t going to end any time soon. Even in our own company, work-life balance had eroded and people were feeling overworked. To combat this, we opted to transition the company to a 4-day work week. 

Of course, we had concerns. We were aiming for 32 hours instead of the normal 40 – while still going providing a 5-day service to our clients. 

Results and learnings

There was a lot we learned on the fly, adjusting as we went. To allow for this, we made sure to check in with our people every week to see how the transition was going. It was difficult at first — we’ve been programmed for 40-hour work weeks since we were in primary school. After a tough six months, we managed to restore our team happiness scores to pre-pandemic levels while simultaneously growing the business by 11% a month.

Unexpected collaboration 
Because we were still servicing our clients 5 days a week, we held honest conversations with our people around working time – arriving at a new way of working. In hindsight, it shouldn’t be surprising that our collaboration and communication improved dramatically, and we were able to feel more cohesive as a work unit despite working fewer hours. 

Improved health and stamina
Every year burnout costs the US economy almost $190 billion and the UK economy £45 billion. We switched to a 4-day workweek to help counter burnout and improve stamina during the peak of COVID, making sure that we could ride out the pandemic and have our people come out on top.

No dip in performance, responsiveness, or client satisfaction
We were able to grow the company by 11% (month on month) and reduce the number of hours we worked while still providing the same level of service to our clients – highlighting you can improve team happiness while increasing your organization’s productivity and performance.  

The impact of a 4-day week on happiness levels

The pandemic disrupted everyone’s experience of both life and work. In the first six months, our team reported a 14% drop in weekly happiness scores. At the time we implemented the 4-day week, we didn’t know that our results were universal. We only knew that our people’s happiness scores were falling fast, and we needed to do something quickly. 

Later, we learned from the 2021 World Happiness Report how the dramatic drop in happiness scores was for white collar workers across the UK — 15% over the first six months of the pandemic. 

4 day week graph

By September 2020, scores were on an upward trajectory, but people were still feeling burned out. Against this backdrop we introduced the 4-day work week. Almost immediately, our happiness scores climbed back to 98% of pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the rest of the UK fell to 75%. 

Fig. 1: We grouped our data into 6-month periods with over 250 measures of weekly happiness within Friday Pulse (10 people x 26 weeks), ensuring the difference between FP and the UK are statistically significant (at 99% confidence levels).

During 2021 restrictions began to ease, and while the UK started to recover, Friday Pulse recovered to pre-pandemic levels and maintained a high average happiness score into 2022. 

There’s no doubt that while the switch to the four-day work week improved the happiness of our team, it also acted as an extra layer of protection against the ongoing challenges of COVID. 

And, as a result, with high happiness scores, we were able to triple our clients and revenue between September 2020 and 2021. 

Where we go from here

Even with the pandemic winding down, we’re continuing with the 4-day workweek. We’ve had a lot to celebrate, and we’ve taken the time to reflect and congratulate our people for adapting well to the new workweek. There’s still lots of room for improvement for us, but we’re keeping a close ear to what our people are saying and making continual adjustments. 

If switching over is something you’ve considered but need help, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you with your transition and in measuring the positive impact a move to a condensed working week will have on your employee happiness levels.