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As July rolls by, we are in month 2 of our 6-month 4-day working week pilot. The world’s biggest four-day workweek pilot might we add, with more than 70 companies in the UK involved, and 3,300 people participating.
So, as you can imagine – month 1 and 2 have been filled with learning curves, productivity, and testing out new ways and disciplines of working to maintain business operations at the same award-winning level they were prior to the pilot. I’ve decided to include some key learnings below, and of course these will keep developing in time; but when it comes to driving productivity, Team Loud Mouth believe in helping one another!
Organized by 4 Day Week UK Campaign and 4 Day Week Global, a non-profit group led by Andrew Barnes, the pilot scheme means that for six months (beginning June 6), employees of participating companies around the world will work 80% of their usual hours while earning 100% of their normal pay. It’s called the 100:80:100 way, meaning 100% pay for 80% of the hours, but 100% productivity.
A worthwhile note here, while our team are working a 4DW – the business operates its same 5 day week. So clients and business operations continue Monday to Friday as normal. A key area to highlight, as I mention again below.
As you can imagine, becoming 20% more productive overnight is no easy task. It is however a LOT easier with the appropriate organisation, planning, and prioritisation. But while we believe in organising your 4-days to ensure key work is completed, a key learning is to not be super strict on time estimations for tasks. You read that right, NOT be strict.
The whole Idea of the 4DW came about due to work expanding to fill time. The 4DW is about analysing productivity, finding the time that is wasted in a day, and using that time differently. When you plan to work on something, let’s say it’s a task you do all the time and you estimate it takes 2hours… If you give yourself 2 hours, it will most likely take you the 2 hours you set aside. Instead, a better way to approach productivity is to focus on short bursts of distraction-free work. You may be surprised how much more you get done in a shorter time frame!
A keyway to succeed in a 4DW is to separate busy work from deep work. What do we mean by that? Well, the likes of checking emails and Slack messages all day and replying straight away – that’s busy work. Stuff that pulls you out of other tasks and distracts. Deep work, is when you are working distraction free with notifications silenced. If you can separate deep work, give yourself that productive time when needed and ensure the wider team respect one another’s time – it will make a world of difference.
We learnt a horrifying stat, did you know on average you will be distracted or interrupted every 11mins? And it can take up to 20-25mins to get back into the zone… so take from that what you will.
Through covid we all learnt this too – when working from home or working flexibly between offices, it’s really important to have strong communication across the business. This can be as simple as having the right tools internally for instant messaging (Slack), but it can also go deeper than that.
The best advice I was ever given was this: When WFH, over-communication should be the standard. You might feel like its too much, but when you aren’t together in an office its key for the wider team to understand where everyone is at. So, rather than just prioritising messaging, look at HOW you message, and how you communicate deep work time. For example, Loud Mouth have implemented an emoji system. Each emoji has a different meaning, and as a business we can recognise those icons as tools to communicate with teams across UK offices, when WFH and when in meetings, needing down time, etc. Communication really is key!
It won’t be a surprise that a KPI for the 4DW is client happiness and business success. It has been a key focus to ensure there is a seamless experience for our clients throughout this pilot, and hopefully beyond too! As mentioned above, while our team work a 4DW, our business works a 5DW. We have split our teams across their days off to ensure when it comes to needing questions answered, or campaigns addressed, or new business wanting to chat – we are here Monday to Friday as we always have been.
How a business splits their 4DW is up to them, but we have ensured throughout that client happiness and client communications are a priority. This takes a lot of planning but has ensured we still have clients experiencing huge growth – and that’s key. We’re changing the way we work, not what we need to succeed.
Last, but definitely not least, is measuring success. The biggest shift in mentality from a Management point of view has been how we assess success. We no longer look at hours worked for success, but purely on client results being driven by our team. Productivity looks different in different sectors, different countries and different businesses, but if you too can shift how you measure success across your business, it will really help transform your approach to the 4DW in the long term.
Will there be more learning? Absolutely – but for now, we are thriving on challenging the old way of working, and being part of the new face of working. Watch this space!
Loud Mouth Media are a multi award-winning Digital Performance Marketing Agency with offices in Belfast, Glasgow, London and Dublin. Do you want a Digital Partner who can help you drive growth through online channels? Get in touch today, we’re still open 5 days a week!