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Taylor Record
November 1, 2022

Can the 4-Day Week really become the new norm?

One extra morning to sleep in. One more afternoon for errands. Another leisurely dinner or night out with friends. The key to the 4-Day Week is flexibility – whether it's a long weekend every weekend or shorter workdays, the goal is to reduce 20% of employees' working time. But does it work?

The 5-day workweek is the norm for most full-time jobs in the developed world. And while it’s often bemoaned by employees – dreaded Mondays, countdowns to Friday – it’s not something that has come under major scrutiny… until now.

And it is kind of strange when you think about it. Why is it that we accept 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks as the standard? And are those numbers actually the sweet spot for productivity and quality of work? Or is it just the default? 

We’ve been talking about flexible work since the early days of betahaus. As entrepreneurs, freelancers, startup teams, creatives, etc. most of us have never worked well under the conditions of a “regular job.” We totally agree that people work better when they have flexibility – but what’s the deal with this 4-Day Week?

Here’s a bit more about the movement, plus an interview with Expath – a partner of betahaus – who’s trying out the model within their own company.

ABOUT 4-DAY WEEK GLOBAL

4-Day Week Global (4DW)  is a foundation that provides companies with advice and support in introducing the 4-day week.  The organization aims to introduce companies to the new working time model through a 6-month pilot project and to increase employee satisfaction. In the long term, this would also serve as a means to attract new talent. The ultimate goal is to create a productive working environment with more efficient structures and the motto is: 100% pay, 80% working time, 100% productivity.

The 4DW Foundation has already been able to test its concept in the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Participating companies are prepared for the change to a 4-day week by means of workshops and coaching. The focus here is on training for greater efficiency, personal responsibility, and structure. The pilot will be scientifically monitored in order to evaluate its success. Depending on the results, the model can be firmly established in the company. The success rate recorded so far speaks for itself: In the countries where the project has already been completed, over 90% of the companies have retained the 4-day week. 

MEET EXPATH

If you've been at betahaus for a while, you've probably seen Expath co-founder, Tia Robinson, offering monthly Expat Expert Sessions. Helping people successfully relocate to Germany is just another day at Expath. Through training, consulting, and German classes, she and her team have helped thousands of people get settled in Berlin and learn German since 2012. By now, they're pretty great at what they do. 

WebsiteLinkedIn

Tia Robinson, CEO of Expath

Tia Robinson, CEO of Expath, noticed even before the pandemic that many colleagues wished to reduce their working hours to have more time for their families, self-care, or personal projects. In her search for a fair solution for all, Tia came across the 4 Day Week Global organisation while googling. 

Starting January 2023, Expath plans to implement the pilot project at its premises, reducing the weekly working hours of all employees by 20% while being committed to 100% output and 100% pay.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW YOUR WORKWEEK WILL BE STRUCTURED – WILL ALL EMPLOYEES HAVE THE SAME WEEKEND?

Nope, and they will not all necessarily have a long weekend - we are still deciding how this will look before the pilot starts in late January. Because we’re a service organization, it’s essential that we’re available Monday-Friday to answer customers. So, we will be looking at when we need people there the most. For example, if we receive the most email inquiries over the weekend, we may block Monday as a day off. Or, if we see Fridays are always slow, we can have more people off on Fridays. 

Funny enough, in some of the previous pilots, the employees’ favorite day off was a Wednesday! 

REALLY 4 DAYS? DOES THIS MEAN NO MEETINGS, CLASSES, OR ANYTHING OVER THE WEEKENDS?

Yes, it means nothing at all on the free day! No phone calls, no meetings, etc. 

Part of the Expath Team

WAS THERE AN APPLICATION PROCESS FOR 4DW? HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE SUPPORT AND TRAINING?

There’s no application; we just emailed 4DW Global and asked if there would be a pilot coming soon to Germany! It turns out they were already planning the EU pilot for 2023 so the timing was perfect. 

And actually, we have volunteered ourselves at Expath to lead the initiative in Germany, and are now looking for other companies which also want to try out a 4-day week. Follow 4DW Germany on LinkedIn.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING AND PREPARATION DID YOU GO THROUGH IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT THE 4-DAY WEEK?

The workshops will start in November and will focus on greater efficiency, personal responsibility, and daily work structure. For example, one key thing we’ll do is audit ALL the meetings everyone has in the entire company. We can reduce some meetings from 60 to 30 minutes, and others from 30 to 15 - and for meetings where the entire team used to need to go, we’ll take turns having a few people there live, and the others can get email updates or notes after. And in addition to company-wide measures, each department and team can find its own unique ways to gain efficiency and time.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER COMPANIES CONSIDERING THIS TRIAL?

Since we’re still preparing the pilot and have not started it yet, we cannot give much concrete advice yet, but we’ve been blown away by the positive response from our employees and their commitment to making the pilot work so well that we can keep a 4DW. 

And we’re optimistic: what we see from other companies that have done the trial is that employees were really satisfied and almost 90% of the companies kept the 4DW going. We’ve also seen in a recent poll in Germany that 75% of employees asked would wish to have a 4DW - so it’s time, Germany! I’m convinced that there will be benefits for employees in terms of more time for their personal projects and needs, and that happy employees = happy customers = happy Expath. 

Special thanks to Expath for their insights on the 4DW! If you're an individual or company looking for support with relocation or language courses, take a look at the Expath website for complete details.