The 4 Day Work Week is growing in popularity, so how can you convince your boss to pilot it?
The 4 day work week is undeniably on the rise.
You’ve seen the benefits repeated on your social media accounts.
You’ve heard your colleagues find new work on the 4 day work week and proclaim the life changing work/life balance that consistent three day weekends bring.
You’ve listened to your team members talk about their desire for the four day work week, and you know the positive impact on health and productivity it’ll have internally for you and your teams.
So, how do you convince your boss (founder, CEO, executive team, leadership team, etc.) to pilot the four day work week in your organization?
Changing the way you (and your boss) think about the 4 Day Work Week
Your pitch starts with a shift in the way you think about the workplace and the 4 day work week.
Commonly, when discussing a change such as the 4 day work week, every bit of information is tied to an expense. What is the cost of removing a full day of work? How does the business grow with that cost? And so on.
The key is to flip that mentality, and think about the inverse.
Instead of focusing on the expense of adopting the 4 day work week, how can you get your boss to think about it as an investment opportunity? How can it improve your talent pool (and retain existing employees)? How can you improve workplace productivity? How is this an investment in the health of each employee, and ultimately the overall health of the business?
Every investment has a cost — that cost is important, but the return on investment is the area to focus your boss’ attention and efforts on.
The Key Benefits of the 4 Day Work Week
When you view the 4 day work week as an investment, focus on the following key benefits for your business.
Increase productivity by completing more, higher quality work
The stat: Microsoft Japan experimented with implementing a 4 day work week, and found a 40% increase in productivity in the process.
Employees spend their time at work 40 hours a week, but that’s not the same as working 40 hours a week. Whether your 4 day work week operates on 32, 36, or 40 hour weeks, the shift to only four days per week allows employees to be more present, undistracted, and focused during the time they’re at work.
At G2i, we found an increase of productivity in three ways:
Focused work hours
A key component of the 4 day work week is focusing your work hours. That means a focus on requiring less meetings and shifting workloads to really focus on the priorities.
According to an Otter.ai report, approximately 70% of all meetings keep employees from working and completing necessary tasks, with the number of meetings attended on average rising by 13.5% through the pandemic.
Focused work hours means a reduction of synchronous work (i.e. meetings), an increase of asynchronous work (i.e. providing details and project updates offline via resources like Loom), and essentialism planning (i.e. the practice of shifting workloads to prioritize important tasks above all else). This allows the high quality talent you are attracting with the 4 day work week to focus on what they do best: their job.
How does that look in practice?
When Buffer piloted the 4 day work week in 2020, the company found that 33.9% of employees felt more productive, while the majority (59.3%) felt that they were equally productive as the 5 day work week. Only 6.8% found that they were less productive.
At worst, with the 4 day work week, we are able to work less and match the same level of productivity as the 5 day work week. At best, you’ll see an increase in productivity, and those companies drawing even will find an increase in output over time as more efficient business practices are established and iterated on.
Reduce technical debt with less mistakes
The addition of an extra day of rest (and reduction in hours) creates an environment where employees can really focus. Your team’s technical debt is the amount of time lost and costs associated with rushed, exhausted, and distracted employees.
Reduced hours and more rest means more clarity, energy, and attention to detail, contributing to fewer bugs, mistakes, and oversights.
Killer Visual Strategies moved to a 4 day work week with the goal of supporting employee mental health and found an unexpected 20% increase in productivity than before. How? The reduction of technical debt.
Hone MVP employees
Consider a professional athlete. As a coach or manager, would you task LeBron James or Serena Williams to perform at their highest level for eight consecutive hours, five days per week? Of course not. So why would we do that to our engineers or developers?
Athletes perform at the highest level of their sport, but they don’t do so consistently for 40 hours per week. Significant, routine time off for rest and recovery play important roles in the success of any athlete.
The same goes for your engineers. The lack of rest in each of your team’s engineers contributes to your business’s overall technical debt. Meaningful, undisturbed time off to rest means employees will be better equipped and energized to perform their best when they’re at work.
Recruit top talent with a competitive advantage
The stat: according to a recent ZipRecruiter study, job postings with 4 day work week offerings saw 15% more applicants than those of the traditional 5 day work week.
Does competing with the salaries and benefits of tech giants like Google and Apple feel impossible? What about your competitors who just received another round of funding? The market, especially in the tech industry, is competitive, with each company vying to hire the best talent to deliver the most value to our teams.
The 4 day work week offers your business a competitive advantage when seeking the best candidates in the industry.
Think about how remote work was offered by most companies before the pandemic. A hybrid of one or two days per week remote was commonly offered as a perk for talent, with various businesses (like G2i) offering full remote company-wide as a key benefit from the get-go.
Now, remote work (whether full remote or hybrid) is the expectation by tech industry workers; it is the norm. Piloting the 4 day work week allows you to take advantage of this new workplace trend before it becomes the norm.
Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index reports that “the collective experience of the past two years has left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how we define the role of work in our lives.” As individuals redefine what work means to them, 47% of respondents stated they were more likely to put family and personal life over work than before the pandemic, while 53% said they’re more likely to prioritize their health and well-being over work.
Differentiating on workplace benefits, like the 4 day work week, meets the new and growing expectations of the workforce. Offering stronger work/life balance can make up the difference between tens of thousands of dollars in salary and bonuses, especially in senior talent.
We’ve seen it first hand at G2i.
The 4 day work week becomes a powerful tool in your arsenal to offer prospective developers and employees with a life changing workplace benefit.
Retain the talent you already have
The stat: roughly 63% — nearly two-thirds — of UK employers adopting the 4 day work week reported that it helped attract and retain talent.
Hiring and turnover are incredibly expensive — replacing a technical role on average can cost 100% - 150% of an employee’s salary. Not to mention the fact that the tech industry has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry. As a hiring platform for specialist developers, we see that the cost of recruiting technical roles comes from:
- Lost productivity
- Lost engagement
- Loss of business-specific knowledge
- New employee errors
- Lower task completion from the start
Once we’ve attracted top talent, it is paramount that we reduce churn and retain these employees to keep costs down.
According to the recent Microsoft Work Trend Index report, in 2021 the top two reasons employees quit were personal well-being or mental health, and work/life balance. The 4 day work work is a benefit that specifically addresses these two priorities.
The 4 day work week has shown to increase employee happiness and engagement, reduce stress, and increase job satisfaction. All positives when looking to improve employee retention.
Create a plan to pilot the 4 Day Work Week
When you convince your boss of the 4 day work week, you’re really convincing your boss to invest in your employees’ health and productivity while working, hiring of quality talent, and the retention of your existing talent.
Throughout this process, you don’t have to wait to begin outlining your own 4 day work week pilot project. Every company is unique, with varying sizes, growth stages, and business models, so we don’t recommend a one-size fits all implementation of the 4 day work week.
In our eBook The 4 Day Work Week, we outline several designs for a pilot program so your company can experiment with the approach that works best for you.
From tips on how to structure your pilot program, to keys of success and more, we’re here to support your company’s exploration of the 4 day work week.
You can download our 5-step plan to a 4-day work week at the link below: