For professionals all over the globe, achieving the perfect work-life integration has always been a massive challenge. And with the recent social distancing requirements and disruptions to everyday life, finding a healthy balance between work and life has become a prominent social issue. A 4-day workweek may help.
The four-day workweek (4DWW) has made headlines after its overwhelming success in Iceland. Can the shift toward a four-day workweek provide a healthier work environment for all team members?
We spoke with Maika Hoekman, Head of People Operations at Bunny Studio, to discuss their experience of applying a four-day workweek for team members.
What Is the Four-Day Work Week?
A four-day workweek follows a compressed work schedule. This arrangement involves companies and team members completing their work in just four days rather than the traditional five days. This arrangement is popular with professionals who prefer flexible working hours.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered Bunny Studio to track their team members’ wellbeing through their perceptions of anxiety and stress levels. The results they found were alarming. This drove Bunny Studio to look for new systems that they could implement to improve their team member’s mental health.
According to Maika Hoekman, “We wanted to create a long weekend or at least one extra day within the week where our team members could breathe. At the same time, it was also interesting for us because we know the research that team members are more productive when they are able to recharge their batteries.”
Work-Life Integration in The Four-Day Workweek
Bunny Studio believes that wellbeing starts with the right work-life integration. Instead of using the term work-life balance, we prefer the term work-life integration. Though this may seem purely semantic, it, in fact, gives a sense of synergy rather than competition between work and life.
When work and life are integrated instead of separated, a greater synergy develops. We believe this is a healthier way to look at all parts of our lives and treat them as integral areas of our overall wellbeing.
What Jobs Benefit from a Four-Day Work Week?
Data suggests that a four-day workweek increases productivity and employee satisfaction. Virtually any freelancer can set their schedule to accommodate a four-day workweek.
At Bunny Studio, the four-day workweek has shown positive effects on company objectives and key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs).
4-day work Week Pros and Cons
Many companies and freelancers are trying out the idea of a reformed workweek system and are achieving fantastic results. On top of the cost savings, some of the benefits of the 4-day workweek policy include increased productivity, more efficient use of time, improved satisfaction, and a better ability to achieve goals.
With trials showing productivity has increased between 25% to 50%, the four-day workweek is proof that people do not need to be tied down to traditional nine-to-five jobs.
Perpetual Guardian reported a reduction of staff stress levels from 45% to 38% when they introduced the 4-day work week policy. Additionally, productivity has been found to increase in other innovative work arrangements as well.
An overworked and burnt-out employee is undeniably less productive than an employee who isn’t.
“I think that the biggest gain in productivity was because even though we worked 20 percent less time, we’ve still been able to gain or positively grow in terms of our company KPIs. We’ve still been able to positively grow our revenue and number of clients”, explains Maika.
More efficient use of time
With the four-day work week, team members do not spend hours completing inefficient do-to lists. They are also less likely to engage in notorious time-wasting activities such as social media and long breaks. The four-day workweek inspires workers to develop healthy and productive work habits, including not procrastinating and staying motivated and energized to finish the most important tasks.
Improved team members satisfaction and engagements
The 4-day workweek policy potentially boosts team members satisfaction, work commitment, job morale, and overall work engagement. Providing flexibility in the work schedule can do wonders for team members because it helps reduce stress levels. This is particularly valuable during periods of upheaval in everyday life.
The results at Bunny Studio speak for themselves. Maika Hoekman reports, “Our team members are extremely happy in working at Bunny Studio and, in fact, would recommend to other family and friends to work at Bunny Studio as well.”
With the reformed system, team members are less likely to take sick leave since they have an extra day off to rest. As a result, they can come back to work ready to take on new challenges.
More focused goals
Bunny Studio’s OKR framework puts a heavy emphasis on goal-setting at the beginning of each quarter. This is achieved through weekly standups that allow team members to stay grounded on where they stand based on their objectives. Organizing your entire week and knowing your weekly goals are important, and team members in Bunny Studio achieve this through time-boxing.
“We encourage our team members to reflect on a weekly, daily, and quarterly basis on how to be more efficient at what they do.”
Aside from time-boxing, Bunny Studio also highlights the importance of asynchronous communication. This is where you improve your skills in contextual and descriptive communication. Through this, team members can convey the message in such a way that the rest of the team understands where they are coming from, what they need, and receive a response in 24 hours.
“I believe that this is one of the core skills in remote work, and having a four-day workweek. Because you have 20 percent less time in the week, you don’t have time to have long meetings. At Bunny Studio, you don’t have meetings longer than 30 minutes.”
Increased customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an important differentiator in the marketplace. When you exceed the expectations of your customers, you can drive brand loyalty. One of the best things about Bunny Studio is its support team that ensures the highest level of customer satisfaction.
“We’ve structured our four-day workweek in such a way that our clients will continue receiving 24/7 support no matter what. Our customer support team works in shifts. Hence, they are not all off on the same day because that would indeed not bring a great customer experience to our clients. Working in shifts has allowed us to offer them quality support. And, also, our turnaround times have increased using the four-day workweek.”
While the push for a 4-day workweek system keeps rising, so do the arguments against it. Let’s take a look at the downfalls of the 4-day workweek policy.
A four-day workweek is industry-specific
Although it seems like most companies worldwide are exploring this new workplace arrangement, there are still industries that continue to remain operational with traditional work systems. For example, a bus driver can’t work extra over four days to take a day off on Friday. Travelers need public transportation every day. A hotel cleaner can’t condense their five days of cleaning hotel rooms into four. This is what makes the new model of work more industry-specific. Some jobs can’t simply shrink their work hours into four days.
There is also a risk
The most pressing drawback for companies who want to try a four-day workweek is the risk they may potentially face if their workers fail to finish their tasks.
Companies that do not succeed in implementing the four-day workweek fail because of many reasons. First, they did not make a complete buy-in and only involved selected team members in the change. Second, there may be a lot of social and economic unrest in the area, and leaders may not have the correct headspace to switch the entire company to a four-day workweek. The last reason is the lack of correct communication structures.
With Bunny Studio, there are effective communication structures in place. This allows communication to be divided through teams, topics, and purposes instead of relying on traditional communication methods like e-mail that are not as organized. It is also important for key communication strategies to be in place for a five-day workweek before it is tested using a four-day workweek setting.
Bunny Studio’s Push, Learn, Play Initiative
Having a four-day workweek may be a dream for many. However, some still feel guilty for taking an additional day to rest.
“Even though you implement this change in an organizational setting, team members will continue to feel guilty about having that extra day off during the week.”
Some team members find themselves constantly thinking about work even when they want to pay attention to other priorities. For work-life integration to work, all areas of our lives need to receive a certain level of prioritization. This way, you will avoid integrating work into every area of your life without integrating much of life into your workday.
How It Works
At Bunny Studio there is an important initiative called Push, Learn, Play.
“The push refers to when push comes to shove, you will probably have to work if you’re not able to organize yourself properly. That is one of the expectations workers set up from the get-go. With the learn part, this is your day of guilt-free focus on learning either with a hobby or skill that you want to improve on to be able to grow professionally. The other area is playing. Let’s face it; sometimes life just gets too much.”
By having the flexibility to shape your workday or taking paid time off while working remotely, Bunny Studio stresses the ability to pivot between different areas of life such as juggling kids, taking care of elderly parents, and participating in community activities.
It’s not unusual to see a co-worker’s cat in a Zoom call. Or hear a dog barking or children screaming in the background of a meeting. We often get to know our co-worker’s children as we’ve become accustomed to seeing them during calls. And Bunny Studio loves it. It’s all part of life…and work.
Will the Four-Day Work Soon Become the Norm?
Bunny Studio’s four-day workweek is a continuing experiment. But the data is pointing to this set-up being advantageous to team members, company, and clients. Given the overwhelmingly positive experience of the four-day workweek at Bunny Studio, the application of this work system is likely to greatly expand across industries and across the globe.
Don’t leave the Blog without reading the Top 10 reasons to work at Bunny Studio.