Happy to Make 4 Day Week Permanent

In: BlogDate: Jan 12, 2023By: Henry Stewart

I’m now back from my sabbatical and, while I was away, our people at Happy decided to make the four-day week (currently a six-month pilot) permanent.

It has been a remarkable success. Here are the results of the survey that informed the decision to go permanent:

  • 77% are sticking to the 32-hour week, with 23% working only one or two hours over

  • Everybody says they are getting as much done as they did before

  • Everybody says their wellbeing is better

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100-80-100

The key guideline in our four-day week was 100-80-100: you get 100% of the salary for 80% of the time, as long as you maintain 100% productivity. If you are achieving that 100% productivity – as we are – what is not to love about this approach?

For me, the main concern was whether we were able to deliver as much to our clients as we were before, without having to take on more staff. And the answer is yes. In fact, we are targeting 10% growth this year, with no increase in staffing.

Some of the comments from our people in the survey:

“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.”

“I have found more productive ways of working so I can manage my workload efficiently.”

“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!”

How have we become so much more productive?

There are a whole range of elements, but they include cutting back on meetings (less of them and less time in them), being really focused, cutting out distractions (from email or Teams) and by doing personal things such as appointments or phone calls on your day off.

Another interesting statistic is our Great Place to Work scores. These are 5% up on last year (when we came top two in UK and top 15 in Europe in the small company section).

We are not alone. Most of those in the UK pilot are reporting the same successes, with at least 86% set to continue after the pilot.

The detailed figure aren’t yet out for the UK pilot but they are for the US and Ireland ones, and they have certainly been a huge success.

Of the 27 companies that filled out the final survey, 18 are definitely going to make the four-day week permanent, seven are planning to continue, one is leaning towards continuing and just one is not sure. In addition:

  • Companies achieved a 38% revenue increase compared to the previous year
  • Sickness days fell from .56 to .39 days per month
  • Stress levels declined (on a 1-5 scale, from 3.15 to 2.95)

Overall, work time reduced by six hours a week, with 79% saying they did manage to get their day off each week.

Of those participating in the survey, 97% said they wanted to continue, 3% leaned towards continuing and not a single person said they didn’t want to continue.

There was also less fatigue, less sleep problems and – on average – a 24-minute increase in how much exercise people did.

“Absolutely loving the four-day work week. It took time to adjust, but months later, I am more productive and more satisfied with my job while working significantly less than I was prior to the trial.”

Many people I talk to say, “that’s all well and good for you but it wouldn’t work in our sector”. Well, check out this blog on how it works in health, schools, hospitality, manufacturing and even in tech start ups.

What is not to like?

Want to give it a try?

Happy is running a one-day workshop (held online via Zoom) on 11th April, where we will discuss all the elements you need to make the four-day working week a success. This includes productivity tips as well as logistical elements such as how to involve your people in the process.

Find out more

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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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Next Conference: 2024 Happy Workplaces Conference

Our Happy Workplaces Conference is our biggest event of the year, and we'd love for you to join us on Wednesday 15th May.

This will be a hybrid event — we will host up to 50 people in the venue at Happy's HQ in Aldgate, London, and up to 200 people online via Zoom. The speakers will be a mix of online and in person. However you choose to join, there will be interaction, discussion, space for reflection and opportunities to network with others.

This year's event is CPD accredited, and speakers include Isaac Getz, Michele Zanini, Caron Bradshaw OBE and Michelle Hill.

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