Happy’s 4 Day Week: How is Our Progress? (A 3 Month Update)

In: BlogDate: Sep 05, 2022By: Henry Stewart

In June of 2022 Happy launched our Four-Day Week initiative. We joined over 60 other companies worldwide in the trial, hoping to improve productivity as well as overall wellbeing.

How are things looking three months on, at the start of September 2022? Happy’s Founder and Chief Happiness Officer - Henry Stewart looks back at how things have progressed and the impact it has had.

Has it been a success? Find out more in this blog.

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The six-month pilot of 70 organisations (including Happy) involved in the four-day working week has now been going for three months.

There has been some negative reporting in The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. I can’t imagine why those papers would seek to pour scorn on something that would improve people’s working conditions. The Telegraph did contact me, and it was clear that the only thing they were interested in was any problems with the four-day week.

44% productivity improvement

And here on LinkedIn, Clare Daniels explains how the articles distorted what she said, and that in fact, they have performed 44% better with people working 20% less.

To their credit, though, The Telegraph has written a further article on Atom Bank who report a fourfold increase in job applications and days lost to sickness dropping from 230 to 72. “We firmly believe the four-day week is the future of working life,” said Anne-Marie Lister, the bank's chief people officer. 

The Times also has this report on Adam Bank, with 92% of staff saying they are more efficient.

There has been a far more considered view in The Guardian, keeping track of people over their first four weeks. “Now I feel renewed,” explains Digger Mosey. “I can’t waste time in the week anymore and I feel much more motivated. I honestly can’t think of any downsides, since everyone is getting their work done.”

The United Arab Emirates has now adopted a standard 4.5 day week, and the town of Sharjah has gone for four days, which has resulted in a significant drop in the emission of gases from cars and a 40% reduction in traffic accidents!

100-80-100

The key concept is 100-80-100. That means you get 100% of your salary for working 80% of the time, as long as you keep to 100% productivity.

So how is it going at Happy?

Remarkably well:

  • 100% say they are working the 32-hour week, or just an hour or two more.
  • 100% say they are getting as much done as before, when they worked 37.5 hours
  • 100% say their overall wellbeing is better

The comments back this up: “I am loving having a day off to be outside and active, I am generally feeling much happier and in turn enjoying work so much more.”

Another adds: “it’s very exciting to have a day off and be able to do whatever you want.”

“I’m learning how to be more focused”

And what has been really interesting is that the increased focus on being more productive seems to mean that instead of working later hours in their four days, people are actually finishing work on time: “I’m learning how to be more focused in a shorter period of time and have less procrastination.”

Another comments: “I am much better at finishing on time now than I was before!”

And another: “I'm more focused and feel good about sticking to my hours - I don't feel guilty, while before I would feel that if I was not carrying on over my hours to complete some work sometimes. I'm sure that made me less productive!”

People seem far more satisfied with their work: “Having much more focused time feels good too - I am enjoying finishing work feeling like I have achieved a lot with my day.”

It isn’t that there are no issues. One colleague says that “it feels much busier than usual as I come back to a busy inbox.” Another suggests “days are slightly longer and feel 'busier' so I find on working days I feel more mentally exhausted.”

And, personally, I do take between 30 and 60 minutes on either the Friday or the Sunday to sort email so I don’t return on Monday to a huge backlog.

Careful Preparation

It does need careful preparation. When we tried it for a month, back in 2019, a majority got as much done as before but some people felt more stressed.

This time we prepared for it four months in advance. We created an Action Group to explore everything that would be needed. I delivered our Productivity Blitz to give people the tools to be more focused on what they needed to do.

We had a real focus on what to cut out, which meetings weren’t needed and which could be shortened.

Think about it: Imagine if you could get all your work done in 32 hours, have your evenings to yourself and also that extra day off.

Would that be good?

 

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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