how to move to a 4 day week

How to Move to a 4-Day Week

By: Jack Selman

Moving to a 4-day working week can not only improve the wellbeing of your employees, but boost productivity too! If you’re wondering how making this change can benefit your organization, check out our article on reasons to move to a 4-day week.

In this blog, we’ll share how to move to a 4-day week.

The ADKAR Approach to Change Management

As we often recommend our customers do, we approached the move to a 4-day week with a formal view of change management.

Our team follows the ADKAR model, which is comprised of 5 key phases:

  • Awareness – stimulating and nurturing an understanding as to why the change is necessary.
  • Desire – capitalizing on that initial understanding to create a sense of want and need within each staff member, helping them to identify the potential benefits (for them as an individual, and for the business as a whole)
  • Knowledge – giving staff the skills, information, and training needed to practically effect this change themselves.
  • Ability – the point at which the change actually takes place. A crucial step that should be quantified and measured where possible, so that supplementary support can be provided where necessary
  • Reinforcement – maintaining momentum by continually assuring that the change has been implemented, that staff aren’t reverting to old processes or methods, and that all is in place to sustain this effort.

Building awareness and starting measurements

When we started this process, back in 2020, building awareness for the need to change was easy. The ongoing pandemic and global shifts in working policy, along with a progressive approach to mental health and wellbeing, meant that we were knocking on an open door.

When the UK went into lockdown, the edison365 team switched to remote, flexible working. Then, we spent the next six months baselining and measuring the success of this change.

By September 2020, we made the decision to change to a 4.5 day week – the business as a whole would take Friday afternoons off, in recognition of the hard work and effort invested throughout the week. This resulted in no salary change for the team.

Creating Desire For a Move to a 4-Day Week

At this phase of the initiative, we focused on building the desire to switch to a 4-day week. Whilst attractive on the surface, changing the working pattern for a remote, globally distributed start-up of around 26 team members was not without its challenges. The desired outcome here was for the team to want to make this change. For this to happen, the benefits – professionally and personally – had to be identified, captured, and extolled clearly and repeatedly.

To make our initial move to a 4.5-day week a success (so we could build up to further reducing our hours), we needed active and visible sponsorship from the leadership team; making clear commitments to “shut down” on a Friday afternoon, being vocal about their use of those afternoons, and creating an environment in which their teams could adopt this change easily too. Staff were encouraged to share their sunny selfies and silly stories of their time off; another useful vehicle to drive cultural development in parallel.

Alongside this, the management team had periodic check-in to assess progress, identify risks and mitigate issues. Whilst there were minor challenges around availability initially, over time this shift allowed us to promote better, more proactive working practices. Another essential component was communication; with our staff internally, but also externally with customers and partners. This change was communicated prior to, during, and throughout the process, to retain support and to seek out potential issues with external parties.

Finally, a key element that played an important role in the 4-day week effort was our digital working capabilities. Ensuring that we have a comprehensive approach to information management was essential; making it easy to find information, and being clear on how information should be handled and managed, so we could reduce dependency on individuals and increase the potential for fully asynchronous working.

We took nine months to assess the impact of our change to a 4.5-day week. With no significant issues and positive movement across key indicators, this provided a strong position from which to further improve our working environment by shifting to a 4-day week. We had developed the awareness and successfully nurtured a strong desire across the business.

Developing Knowledge

Once the plan to commence a 4-day week pilot had been communicated with employees, and their interest gauged, we put together a proposal for how the scheme would run.

At this stage, we focused on building knowledge. A thorough program of training and upskilling was delivered to all staff. This covered how to track non-working days as a staff member, how to track this as a manager, how to navigate our internal information management systems, and briefings on the proposed impacts of this change.

Regular Q&A sessions with the team gave us insight into aspirations, expectations, and potential key risks and dependencies. We also had early insight into the ability of our team to support this change by auditing our time tracking system to ensure people had booked their non-working days off before the end of 2021. Regular sessions with department heads also allowed us to explore how these weeks would be structured at the team and business level, to prevent clashes or issues.

Ability – Putting a 4-Day Week in Place

We started a trial of the 4-day week in January 2022, with a view to make a decision by March of that year, and execute formally in time for the new financial year in April.

Over the course of the pilot, we assessed several key elements to track, measure and define success. Criteria included:

  • Customer feedback
  • Staff feedback
  • Revenue
  • Quality
  • Productivity

Feedback from staff throughout the process gave us insight into how we needed to improve and adapt to make this a success, giving us to ability to meet the needs of the team quickly and effectively.

Multiple touchpoints with staff and managers alike showed that this change was not without its challenges, and required some adjustment to business rhythm and working practices.

Following positive feedback from both staff and customers – as well as strong financial performance – edison365 made the decision to permanently commit to a 4-day week. We then worked with our HR team to provide advice and reassurance around contractual changes.

In Summary – How to Move to a 4-Day Week

We recommend treating the move to a 4-day week the same as any other change management process. Be sure to get buy-in from employees and seek feedback from both them, your supply chain and your customers at every stage of the process. Have measurements in place to determine your success, and keep looking for ways to make improvements.

If you’d like to find out more about making the dream of a 4-day week a reality, click here to download our white paper.

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