The 4 Day Week Campaign: Working More Hours for Less Pay: Samantha Losey Says She’s On The Way to Become More Routine
It wasn’t hard for Samantha Losey, managing director of Unity, a public relations firm in London, to convince her team to work fewer hours for the same paycheck.
But after a “very difficult journey” to convince her board, and a rocky start, Losey said her team has hit its stride. She said she is 80% sure everyone will keep the routine after November, when the trial ends.
Unity is one of 70 companies in the United Kingdom participating in the trial. For six months starting in June, more than 3300 employees have worked 80% of their usual hours in exchange for a promise to deliver 100% of their usual work.
The 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week Campaign in the United Kingdom and a think tank collaborated to create the pilot program.
According to organizers, 98% of the participating organizations continued after the end of the trial. About 71% of workers said they had “lower levels of burnout” by the end of the six months, while 40% experienced fewer sleep difficulties.
The employees of 5 Squirrels, a manufacturing company in southern England, can focus on their projects in the office instead of being interrupted by email.
Employers are happier and healthier than they thought before the Pandemic Experiment: A Case Study of Losey’s Executive Team
“We’ve all lost a lot of weight…we were overweight before,” he said. “[The team has] more time to prepare food, [eat] healthily. Lots of people are going to the gym a lot more.”
Losey’s team is much more inspired and creative than their clients are, four months into the trial. An internal study at the company found that productivity was up 35% and staff said they were feeling healthier and happier, compared to before the trial.
She said that the clients are desperate for the experiment to pay off so that they can persuade their bosses to do the same.
A Gallup survey of more than 12,000 workers found there was no correlation between levels of engagement in their jobs and their well-being when they worked four days a week.
Schor said it makes for happier and healthier employees. That’s especially important given the demands of the pandemic pushed many to simply burn out.
Two days is not enough for Americans to have a good weekend. She said that they could not get all of their work done, as well as take their children to activities and prepare for the work week. It is not enough because all of that gets crammed into two days.
She described the first week as “Armageddon,” with too few colleagues available to respond to a client emergency. She said that she sat on the kitchen floor and cried.
Slowly, the team has adapted, and introduced new habits that have made all the difference. Internal meetings are not longer than 15 minutes, and client meetings are not longer than 30 minutes. Emails to colleagues are not allowed to reach more than 25% of a day’s total emails.
Losey’s staff swears by a “traffic light” system to reduce distraction in the office. If you are happy to talk, amber if you are busy but still available to speak, and red if you don’t want it to stop, your coworkers have a light on their desk.
For two hours every morning and two hours every afternoon, Conroy’s staff are given a deep work time where they can ignore email, calls or instant messages in order to concentrate on their projects.
His team has even started unplugging the office phones, as they were too distracting. He said clients were initially bothered, but that they have responded by sending more emails.
Why are we doing this to ourselves? A Pedestrian’s Tale of Work and Leisure in the Age of Out-of-Work Conditions
There is a writer based in New York who wrote a book, “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her on Twitter. Her opinions are hers alone in this commentary. View more opinion on CNN.
In the last few decades, American work life has undergone a revolution. Technology makes many of our jobs much simpler and more efficient. Automation has replaced many forms of manual labor. Working women, once an anomaly, are a standard part of a workforce that is more diverse and better-educated than at any point in American history.
It seems that technological innovations have made us more dependent on machines and devices while threatening to take over our creative works. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
If the bill goes through, it would give researchers and policymakers even more information on shorter workweeks in order to help craft better policies to keep the US economically competitive by shifting cultural norms away from fulltime work and towards a healthier relationship to work.
That fear could very well be wrong. I am a sample size of one, and as a freelancer my hours are all over the place, but I will often at least try to schedule out my week so I am working four full days rather than five (or sometimes seven) partial ones. Creating these boundaries around my working hours means that I am much more focused and efficient; I spend less time perusing social media or doing non-work tasks so that I can enjoy the reward of a free Friday.
We are three years into a pandemic that upended work life (and life-life) as many of us knew it. We’re living in an era of out-of-work demands, more extreme than ever, for example, parenting and other forms of caregiving. In a country that provides scant support as it people strive to balance it all, a slim majority of Americans and a strong majority of workers still get health insurance, there is no universal child care, and we have no guaranteed paid parental leave.
In the United Kingdom, in the course of six months beginning in June of last year, 2,900 workers worked 80% of their usual hours in exchange for promises to deliver 100% of their work. That is the biggest number of companies to ever take part in such a trial, according to organizers 4 Day Week Global (4DWG), a nonprofit organization.
The time male workers spent looking after their children rose by 27%, according to time diaries they kept during the trial. There was an increase in the amount of time women spent with their children.
“It is wonderful to see that we can shift the dial and start to create more balance of care duties in households,” Charlotte Lockhart, founder and managing director of 4DWG, told CNN.
Among all workers, 60% said they were better able to combine their jobs with caring responsibilities, while 62% said it was easier to have a social life.
Women’s experience is generally better after a new schedule, says the chief executive of 4DWG.
Managers and employees in the trial said the extra day of rest had changed their lives for the better, as they were given more time to take care of their families and hobbies.
Employers’ productivity, stress, burnout, and productivity improved by reduced work hours: Evidence from a national study in the United Kingdom from 4DWG
The UK study follows a separate international trial last year involving 903 workers across 33 companies, with the majority of workers based in the United States and Ireland.
That experiment was even more successful: none of the 27 companies that responded to 4DWG’s survey said they were leaning towards or planning on returning to their former five-day routine.
Results from a new pilot program at dozens of employers in the United Kingdom showed major benefits to workers’ health and productivity when their hours were reduced — and a vast majority of firms plan to stick with the condensed schedule.
The results of the trial showed how companies were changing the four-day week from a dream into a realistic policy withbenefits, said David Frayne, a research associate who worked on the trial.
It included roughly 2,900 workers at 61 companies — from nonprofits, manufacturers and finance firms to even a fish-and-chip shop — and ran from June to December of last year.
Largely, workers themselves approved. Employees reported less work-related stress, lower rates of burnout and higher job satisfaction. A majority of employees reported working at a faster pace.
Juliet Schor, a professor at Boston College and the project’s lead researcher, said that the results are steady and that it is an innovation which works for many types of organizations.
How employees used their spare time differed by the type of work they performed, researchers found. Those working in professional services and nonprofits were found to spend more time exercising than those in construction and manufacturing.
Revenue increased by an average of 1.4% over the study period, according to data from 23 organizations that provided it. The authors noted that Absenteeism fell even though it took place during the Great Resignation.
How much work do you need to spend to accomplish what you want? A case study of Tyler Grange’s environmental consultancy firm 4 Day Week
Among them is Tyler Grange, an environmental consulting firm based in England. Managing director Simon Ursell told NPR that the firm invested in technology and stopped doing the “day-to-day rubbish” of certain administrative tasks in order to squeeze the required weekly workload into four days instead of five.
“If you give people a money-can’t- buy incentive to do something, then it will really help them focus their mind on doing what they want to do,” he said.
Ursell agreed that a strict four-day workweek may not fit every company’s needs, but he urged managers to rethink what is necessary to get the work done.
The trial proved that you can achieve the best productivity in the time you have left with an organization if you work in a way that’s most applicable to it. It might be four days or more. I think the real question for me is what is the best thing for your organization? Do you want to get the best outcomes?
4 Day Week claims it will release results from similar trials in the US and Ireland, as well as from pilots in Australia and New Zealand.
Why the Weekend keeps coming up? An analysis of a press release by Lindsay Tjepkema, the CEO of Casted, Inc
Don’t you think it keeps coming up? The weekend is a perma-long one with no reduction in pay. We as a society refuse to let it go because it’s so attractive.
Want more journalism to get you thinking about work and money? You can listen to the Consider This episode to figure out a recession toolkit.
Lindsay Tjepkema, the CEO of a marketing technology company called Casted, last year told NPR she wasn’t convinced an extra day off is the relief people crave.
“Real flexibility is being able to say, ‘hey I want to start my workday later than usual,’ or ‘I want to cut out early on Wednesday for personal and pet reasons.’ So if I mandate that flexibility at our company means you get Fridays off, that’s not flexibility. That is mandating a day off.