Company culture

Is a four-day work week better? Insights from a team in the thick of it

We share valuable feedback from our team that's helping us shape our own program and will help anyone else considering a shift to the 4DWW!

Is a four-day work week better? Insights from a team in the thick of it
Listen to this article. Audio recording by
Brook Fischer

It’s been six months since we launched our four-day work week pilot and many of you are curious to know, “Is a four-day work week better?”

Well, it depends on who you ask. If you’re asking Team Homerun, then the answer is a resounding YES – while fully acknowledging there are some challenges we knew we’d encounter.

We’ve learned a lot over the last six months, and we'd like to share some of our most interesting and helpful insights about the 4DWW with you. We’ll tell you how we've been approaching it, what was needed to make this program a success and why the length of our pilot has been so important.

We'll also share valuable feedback from our team that is helping us shape our program and will help anyone considering a shift to the 4DWW.

Of course we’re speaking from the perspective of a small company whose benefits are tailored to our specific needs. That doesn’t mean bigger companies couldn’t or shouldn’t try something similar. We hope what we’ve experienced and learned so far can inspire others to take the leap and try new things that will benefit their team!

How Homerun approaches the four-day work week

To understand the potential ins and outs, first it’s important to know how our four-day work week is set up.

  • Team members pick a set day off (Monday, Wednesday or Friday). There’s room for the occasional switch to accommodate appointments, travel, etc.
  • There is no expectation to work longer hours during the week to compensate for the day off. Everyone works four days and receives full-time pay.
  • Every week is a four-day work week. In the event of a public holiday, team members can choose to take their regular day off or the holiday. They just need to communicate with their team in advance.
  • People with days off are displayed in our shared Google calendars and Slack, so everyone is aware of who's working and who's not on any given day.

Before we even began the pilot, we sat down and wrote a 4DWW Playbook in Notion to help guide our team. In it we included the who, what, when, where, why and how we were doing it, and additional info we thought would be helpful, like FAQs and a chart with everyone’s set day off.

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<img src="https://assets.website-files.com/5e1452b8eb497cb0d999c76f/6363aa011ffcaf467ea772e7_4DWW%20FAQs.png" loading="lazy" alt="Four-day work week FAQs" class="browser-image"></div>

We also shared our key ingredients to making this pilot a success, which include the following:

🔑 Trust

🔑 Taking ownership

🔑 Being accountable

🔑 Being reliable

🔑 Staying connected

These all may seem like givens for a healthy work environment, but they are especially important for the four-day work week as people have to adjust to a new way of working, take others’ schedules into consideration and manage their time differently.

We included these three important reminders:

  1. Communication is key
  2. Freedom comes with responsibility
  3. Have fun and stay weird!

All of these ingredients to success are based on our core values, which we refer to whenever we’re making big decisions. They continue to guide us as we navigate this pilot.

Homerun core values

How we’re assessing the success of the four-day work week pilot

To monitor the impacts of the 4DWW on our team, we send out monthly pulse surveys using Typeform. Through anonymous responses, we learn more about our team's thoughts and feelings in regards to the 4DWW.

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<img src="https://assets.website-files.com/5e1452b8eb497cb0d999c76f/6363b05b873e1304f00e4f08_General%20feelings%20towards%204DWW.png" loading="lazy" alt="Four-day work week general feelings Typeform" class="browser-image"></div>

We ask similar questions each month so we can track things like overall satisfaction and our team’s well-being, and we add new queries when we want to know something specific. Among other things, we’ve been able to assess how the 4DWW has impacted the following areas: focus, flexibility, family, friends and fun. We’ve dubbed these the 5 Fs. 🖐

With our team’s permission, we’re sharing insights and specific feedback about each one. Some of their responses may surprise you!

Focus

With a 4DWW, you find that you have to very organized and focused in order to complete tasks and projects within a certain time frame. Every month we ask the entire team about their efficiency based on the reduced number of working hours per week.

The majority (94%) responded that they are more efficient and team members shared this helpful feedback related to focus:

“The 4DWW has helped me (or maybe forced me) to be more aware of the importance and urgency of the tasks at hand. There's always more work to be done than there is time, but the 4DWW has made it easier for me to plainly say ‘no’ to tasks that are not both important and urgent."

"Even though I've always worked 4 days since starting at Homerun, I do find that I need to focus a bit more to get everything done because our team (Support) juggles replying to customers and initiatives so this can be challenging at times. It requires me to plan certain times during which I don't look at the inbox at all, which is still a work in progress because helping customers is our main task."

“Mondays can be a little jarring after a 3-day weekend. I really need a moment to remember what I was working on and get back into the zone. You know that feeling when you get back from vacation and have to get used to work mode again? Mondays can feel like that if I've had a particularly adventurous weekend (which I have more and more often with the 4DWW)."

“Switching to 4 days made me more aware of how I’m filling my hours. It challenged my time management skills but once I adjusted, I felt more focused on my working days. I may not get exactly the same amount of work done, but it’s close enough while feeling more productive than before."

Flexibility

Flexibility in choosing a day off is one of the perks we offer. Yes, it means more moving parts to keep track of, but we’ll gladly take that on as it aligns with our people first philosophy and honors the fact that different team members have different needs.

After six months, our team has reported they’re getting used to everyone’s varying schedules. They’ve also found that they’re more flexible in the way they work, displaying more patience and having realistic expectations about when things will get done.

Here are some of the things they said about being flexible and having co-workers with different schedules:

“Sometimes I still find myself DM’ing a colleague before I remember they are not working on that day. Usually it’s no big deal and I ask them if they can get back to me the next day or I make it work for myself."

“Since people all have different lives regardless of the 4DWW, it's not much different from having to check if someone is off one day or if they're busy in other meetings or obligations."

“It's totally fine and kind of nice to have days when fewer people are working so you get fewer messages and have more focus time.”

“I think we're very much used to getting something done, or getting a reply very fast. These extra days off just force us to be more patient, and to be more creative."

“Your team isn't going to be available for you whenever you want. But the same can be said for async work and remote work. I think the 4DWW requires you to be more thoughtful and it also requires you to think ahead and plan when you have to collaborate.”

Family, Friends and Fun

One of our hopes with the 4DWW was that our team members would be able to find more balance. Life is so much more than work, right?

We're happy to hear from our team that they're enjoying this extra time off and finding more time to connect with friends and family members (including furry ones).

Sanne and Cheddar puppy training
Sanne and Cheddar at puppy training

We love it when people share photos on Slack and WhatsApp showing us how they've chosen to spend their time. Sometimes it's doing something special and out-of-the-ordinary, but oftentimes it's little, relaxing things like watching a favorite show, playing a game or taking care of houseplants.

Matteo's plant
It's Matteo's plant!

We're happy knowing everyone is doing exactly what they need to take care of themselves and enjoy life. Here are just some of the things we've heard from Team Homerun about their day off:

“It feels extremely valuable that my employer enables me to have a day alone with my son without having to sacrifice financial stability. I have more time with my family/less financial stress and those are both very important for happiness.”

Thomas and family
Thomas spending time with family

"The biggest change I've noticed in myself is that it no longer feels like my life revolves around work. 5 days on with 2 days off really made my world feel small sometimes. Like my weekends were just for recharging for the next week of work and to complete a couple of personal obligations like doing taxes (fun!). There's something about a 3-day weekend that really allows me to have a fuller life outside of work. Before the 4DWW I only JUST managed to see my family and friends enough. Now I find that there's time for things my soul really needs: alone time, time for reflection and joyful movement outside in nature (canoeing, biking, swimming).

Lydia canoeing
Lydia canoeing in the Amsterdam forest

“The extra day feels extremely luxurious! Some weeks I plan in me-time, other weeks I spend it with friends or family. It’s exactly that one day extra that makes me feel I have enough time to work on every other important aspect in life. To me that is health, relationships, personal development and having fun!"

Jennifer and friend in Lyon
Jennifer and a friend in Lyon

“Being able to work 4 days allows me to do more fun things with my friends and partner on the weekends because I can get my chores and most errands out of the way on my Wednesday off. It allows me to stay balanced by taking a break during the week or a longer break at the end of the week in case I ever have a Monday or Friday off. Personally I can really use that time and it improves my mental health being able to take a break and truly take time to myself.”

4DWW struggles and how we address them

While there are lots of positives, you can bet there are some challenges that come with a four-day work week! For one, everyone has to manage their workload in a new way.

We made it clear to our team that we do not want them to work longer hours. That said, we check in monthly to see how everyone is doing in terms of workload and well-being.

<div class="browser-container"><div class="browser-chrome"><div class="browser-block-buttons"><div class="browser-icon"></div><div class="browser-icon"></div><div class="browser-icon"></div></div></div>
<img src="https://assets.website-files.com/5e1452b8eb497cb0d999c76f/6363b5aadf968785db5f2f7f_Workload%204DWW.png" loading="lazy" alt="Four-day work week stress levels Typeform" class="browser-image"></div>

From the looks of it, there are a few team members who may occasionally have increased stress levels from running behind. We encourage everyone to trust their instincts and reach out if they feel like they need help assessing and/or improving their situation.

Our team knows that one of the goals of the 4DWW is increased motivation and productivity through focus, but it's definitely not the main goal! As we share in our 4DWW Playbook, "Your health, well-being and happiness are our top priority." To that end, we aim to:

✨ Improve overall well-being through more rest

✨ Foster a culture of freedom, personal growth and creativity

It takes creativity, trial and ingenuity to overcome challenges, and we've seen plenty of that throughout the pilot. We asked our team to share their biggest hurdles related to the 4DWW and how they address them. Here's what they said:

"Picking up where I left off before a 3 day weekend. I just write more notes, notes, notes."

"Getting back into the swing of things on Monday is the biggest challenge. I deal with this by going to the office more so that I more quickly get productive at the beginning of the week. That seems to be working."

"For me it's remembering who is going to be out when. I know it's on the calendar but sometimes people do switch their day off and I'll forget. I might be working on something that I'll plan on sharing with a team member at the end of the day and then I'll remember, 'Oh yeah. They're off tomorrow.' It's never anything urgent, so not a big deal, but I am trying to be more mindful of others' schedules and plan my weeks better."

"It used to be wait times to hear back from people and get feedback, but I'm addressing it by taking more ownership (within reason) of the decision-making process."

Long-term pilot vs. experiment vs. productivity boost

In the news and our LinkedIn feeds, we've noticed lots of companies trialing the four-day work week. Some have done this through "Summer Fridays" (like Microsoft Japan) while others have done slightly longer stints.

When designing our pilot, we decided we didn’t want this to be a short-term experiment or a simple exercise in boosting productivity. For us, the length of our pilot has been key in helping us determine if this new way of working is really going to work for us. We've needed a good amount of time to try things out, reflect back and understand the impact the 4DWW is having on us.

After six months, we finally feel like we've hit our stride and found better ways of working. We’ve kept important meetings and eliminated unnecessary ones. We're also using Loom more frequently now to document processes and improve clarity in our asynchronous communication.

Our Director of People, Rita, shares, "I think the biggest shift for us is that people actually think ahead more. Maybe that’s the secret of why so many companies say the 4DWW boosts productivity. It makes people more mindful of their four days and so they end up spending their time more wisely."

Increased focus, teamwork, flexibility, innovation and efficiency are not the only benefits we've seen. We knew most people were enjoying the 4DWW, but imagine our surprise and delight when 100% of our most recent survey respondents said that it has increased their work-life balance.

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<img src="https://assets.website-files.com/5e1452b8eb497cb0d999c76f/6364e0923dcce80a675f348a_Work-Life%20Balance.png" loading="lazy" alt="Four-day work week work-life balance Typeform" class="browser-image"></div>

This is a sign that we're moving towards our goals of decreasing stress and burnout, focusing on well-being and creating space for other aspects of life.

Is the four-day work week the wave of the future?

You tell us! Nearly 100 years ago, economists were predicting that humans would one day be working less hours due to technological advances and increased wealth (see John Maynard Keynes’ “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”). Former U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon was saying back in 1956 that he could envision a 4-day work week in the “not too distant future.”

The future is now and many companies are already making the shift – notably in North America, Ireland, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and most recently the UK, where more than 70 organizations began a six-month trial of the 4-day work week in June 2022. Over 3300 employees in the UK trial are getting one paid day off per week while providing data points and qualitative feedback through internal check-in surveys.

At the midway point of the pilot

  • 88% of survey respondents said the 4DWW was working well for them
  • 86% said at this stage they would be likely or extremely likely to keep the arrangement once the trial is over

Our team has similar sentiments. In our most recent survey, only one person said it would not be difficult to return to a 5-day work week, with 75% expressing it would be "very difficult."

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<img src="https://assets.website-files.com/5e1452b8eb497cb0d999c76f/6363f173aeb9bb9cad57b250_5DWW.png" loading="lazy" alt="Four-day work week work-life balance Typeform" class="browser-image"></div>

Final thoughts on the four-day work week

If the four-day work week is better for Homerun, then is it here to stay? TBD, people, but with all the data we have and the way things are going, it's a strong possibility. We still have three months left in our pilot and we'll continue to keep an eye on our progress and well-being to help us make our decision.

One thing we do know: our team members are enjoying the 4DWW so much that if they ever decide to move on (please don't! 🙏) they will be looking for a company with this perk.

94% of our team members say the 4-day work week has become a deciding factor in working for a company.

Joe O'Connor of 4 Day Week Global (the organization running the UK trial in partnership with think tank Autonomy and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University), shares, “Not only is it good for business, but the four-day week also has a massively positive impact on workers’ overall well-being and society in general.”

It feels good to be making a positive impact on multiple levels. We’re looking forward to learning even more in the home stretch of our pilot, and you can be sure we’ll reveal any 4DWW “gems” we discover. 💎

Be sure to follow Homerun on LinkedIn where we’re continuously sharing 4DWW insights along with handy hiring tips. And for more on company culture and the future of work, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, The Art of Work.

About the author
Brook is 1/3 of the Homerun Content Team. She lives in Toulouse with her husband, two sons and one sweet Staffy. She enjoys crafting, dancing, laughing and she’s always on the hunt for a good burrito.

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