Experimenting is vital. Paramount to our success. We make assumptions, run the experiment, adapt, and see where it takes us. We try to work out whether we need to change, re-think, re-focus, or what could be done to make the experiment better.
We as a company evolve, ask questions, search for answers, then ask some more. We do this by trade. For startups we help to launch, for big corporates we consult on their journey, and for ourselves.
We improve what it means to work in Qd3 and adjust the way we work, one step at a time. A place for change rather than a set of limitations. At one point, we played around with working 20% less. Having a three day weekend instead of two. Working four days instead of five, by applying the 4-day work week. Delivering the same results in less time. Today, we’d like to share what we’ve learned along the way.
We like tossing them and seeing what sticks – most of them don’t. Great ideas are rare. Working four days instead of five days per week is a well-examined topic. Smart minds have written about it. Comprehensive studies were, are, and will be conducted. We decided to see for ourselves. Truth be told, it took us quite some time to decide and weigh out the implications, but finally, we posted this:
It was evident that we’d face some serious challenges. The most striking ones for us were:
Qd3 plan before they immerse in something. We build assumptions which we then try to prove or disprove. Before we set out to work less, we had naturally formulated ideas on how it would play out. We also asked each team member what their expectations and hopes were for this undertaking. That way, we ensured that everyone started off this period consciously, with the right mindset and focus. Here’s what we came up with:
We had our foundation ready. Counting down the days until we can finally count with fewer days. On the 4th of August, we pushed the button – the first of the upcoming 8 work-free Fridays.
Normally, at the end of each day, we let the rest of the team know what we have accomplished on a give day, and where we need support and input. We kept on doing this on the free Fridays as well, which gave us an insight into how this day off played out for us. Here are some of the things we got up to on our Fridays off:
As you can see, we had quite a bit of fun on Fridays during this period. After the last Friday off, we sent out a little questionnaire to assess how the experiment went for each one of us. Keep in mind – we are a small company. So the results are not meant to withstand scientific scrutiny but rather give us a hunch for which direction to take in the future, and provide a base for further investigation as well as for discussions.
The little questionnaire tells us that our individual expectations have been met, for the most part. Our perceived output level seems to have been steady and, most strikingly, the team reports to be much happier and focused. From this perspective, our experiment was a success. How can we argue against “more happiness”, “more focus”, “more time for personal development”, and even “more productivity”? Well, when digging deeper, we found some things that need to be taken into account while examining the feedback. We still saw ourselves working on average 2.5 days out of the 8 in question.
When looking another level deeper, we found that the division was not equal. On average, we worked 2.5 out of those 8 Fridays – but most of us didn’t work at all, while others worked nearly all of them. It suggests that we have put even more load on our bottlenecks. Our managers and seniors had to communicate with our clients more, monitor the potential side effects of the “missing” day, keep expectations in check, and balance workload more carefully. They had to push harder for a steady output and be vigilant in the goal setting. In the grand scheme of things, everything seemed to have worked out fine, however, zooming in uncovered some serious long-term threats.
Afterwards, we asked ourselves many questions:
Is it worth repeating? We don’t know yet. But we are determined to find out.
As you can see in the final question, our team loved it and would love to repeat it. It was also interesting to see that we are not gunning for the “we want this all year long” but more for this to be a seasonal solution. What are your thoughts on this?
We are not ready to conclude just yet, but we still want to share our main learnings with you now.
At this point, you’re probably asking whether you should give this a try. Whether you should work four days instead of five. Well, as far as we can tell, and drawing from our own experience, this heavily depends on your business, how it works, what your values are, how your team works, and who you work with.
So, what are your thoughts? Have you tried similar undertakings? Would you like to? If so – why? If not – why not? Do you have any insights or questions for us? Let us know. Let’s get talking about this and try to challenge the ingrained line of thinking that the more time you spend working, the better and more valuable your output.