The four day working week. It seems to the discussion topic of the moment for many organisations as they grapple with what working life will be as we learn to live with Covid-19. And Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd is no exception. I’ve been experimenting with a four day week from the start of September 2021 and I want to share three reasons why with you.
It’s easy for me to do.
When it boils down to it, Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd is just me, Rob (hello!). I own and run the business and am it’s sole employee. I can work when I want to work, that’s the upside of being my own boss.
Until last summer I worked a five day week, with weekends protected as much as possible for family. Of course sometimes weekend working is necessary, and when I used to do long overseas work trips, every day ended up being a work day to some extent, sometimes for up to nine weeks straight!
In August 2020 I faced four months of intensive work with no time for a break until Christmas. So I switched to having one working day off every two weeks. That worked well and kept me refreshed and energised so I continued doing it into 2021. In light of that, making a move to a four day work week is not a huge shift in the number of days I already sit at my desk.
I’ve gone to a four day week because it matches my workload.
I use an app called Tyme to record the hours I work. It doesn’t capture everything but all client work goes in there as well as most of the effort that goes into running, marketing and maintaining a small business. By analysing the data from Tyme on how many hours I work against the maximum number of hours I set myself to work each week, I can look back over the data for last five years and see that my average productivity is around 80%.
How did I work this out? Well, I set my work week to be five days of seven hours each, so a total of 35 hours a week. Over the last five years since I started using Tyme I have on average worked 28 hours a week. This accounts for some weeks which are much longer (for example when I was travelling overseas) and some where I had less client work booked in or was on holiday (vacation time can now be recorded in Tyme but this feature was only introduced last year).
What does this mean? Simply put, for every five day week I am — on average — getting enough work done to fill four working days. This explains why dropping one work day every ten hasn’t affected the business over the last year or had any negative impact on the quality of my work. (I can provide quotes from numerous happy clients to back that assertion up. If you’d like some, just ask me).
So, I’m going to experiment with dropping every week to a four day working week, matching my productivity with my working hours, and see how it goes.
Life is about more than work. As the Four Day Week Campaign puts it on their website:
“We invented the weekend a century ago and it’s time for an update. Since the 1980s working hours have barely reduced at all, despite rising automation and new technology. We’re long overdue a four-day working week which would benefit our society, our economy, our environment and our democracy.”
My mum died in 2019 and I want to spend more time with my Dad. An extra day not at my desk each week can help me do that.
I don’t get the personal and professional development time I might have in a ‘normal job’ because my focus on delivering for clients takes priority. An extra day not at my desk each week can help me do that.
I want to make the most of those things we’ve been deprived of for the last eighteen months during the pandemic, going places and seeing people I love. An extra day not at my desk each week can help me do that.
I want reduce my carbon footprint. One less day a week of business travelling (when that starts to happen again), one less day a week with my computer on, one less day a week doing video calls, all of this will add up to a big change (I hope). An extra day not at my desk each week can help me do that.
I’d quite like more time to do some volunteering. An extra day not at my desk each week can help me do that.
Over to you
So there you have it, three reasons why I have moved to a four day working week. I’m not doing compressed hours but a proper four day week. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.
Have you moved to a four day week? What benefits did it bring?
Is a four day week a topic of conversation in your organisation? Why?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
These two articles may also be of interest:
- Kill the five-day work week
- ‘Overwhelming Success’: Researchers Praise Iceland’s Four-Day Work Week Trials