5 min read

Does a 4-day workweek work?

It's been now three months since we started our pilot for a 4-day workweek, and it's time to go through the results, fuck ups, learnings, and successes around this. And, of course, the big question: Are we going to continue this?

If you want to check out the starting situation & why we started the 4-day workweek in the first place, check out this article.

When we started the pilot, we decided to measure the success of four different things:

  1. Employee happiness - Our goal is to create the best workplace for talent acquisition professionals.
  2. Customer happiness - Do we see a drop or increase in customer happiness?
  3. Our sales & marketing - Will there be an effect on our pipeline or new customers?
  4. Revenue - Is our overall revenue and MRR going up?

Let's start by analyzing  the results:

Employee Happiness

We have collected feedback on this in a few different ways:

  1. We send a questionnaire to everyone at TalentBee every month --> The results are going up on this.
  2. We chat weekly about what our team is thinking about this, and it seems everyone is enjoying it.

There are mainly two things that I notice us discussing all the time around this:

  1. Weekends feel much longer & people have so much more energy during the workweek because of this.
  2. It's been challenging to prioritize things and say no to things - Because you have 8 hours less per week, it means that you need to do things more efficiently and focus on the most important things.

Customer Happiness

We measure this from three different perspectives:

  1. Are customers happy - This is typical feedback during our meetings & monthlies with customers. It seems like customers are as happy as before.
  2. Are customer getting results - Our fill rate for customer recruitments are still 100%, and time-to-hire is way smaller than it was last autumn.
  3. Are customers buying more - It seems like all of our customers are happy, staying as customers, and multiple customers have bought more of our services.

So seems like customers are getting happier all the time - More references & intros to new customers are happening all the time.

Our sales & marketing

For us, it's important that our pipeline is growing & that we are getting new customers. A lot of things, of course, affect this one, like the market situation, but this one is also going in the right direction.

We are getting new customers & new customers are coming into the pipeline.

During the 4-day workweek pilot, we have, for example:

  1. Closed our first completely international customer from The Netherlands
  2. Closed our biggest customer ever

Revenue - Is our revenue & MRR going up?

Short answer: yes.

Our revenue is higher than before the pilot & our MRR has also increased by +50% during this period. We are, of course, a start-up and growing, so it should be growing (And I can't say that this would be because of the 4-day workweek). I'm sure it would have also grown with the traditional 5-day workweek.

But based on all the metrics, things are moving as expected, our work-life balance is way better than it used to be, and we are growing profitably.

What have been the biggest challenges around this?

There have been a few challenges while moving from 5 days to 4 days workweek, and something I would really focus on if you consider the change.

Learn to say no.

When you move to a 4-day workweek, it means that you will have around 8 hours less time per week. This means that you need to prioritize a lot more. In the first weeks of this pilot, we didn't realize this well enough and used time on things we shouldn't. Here are the things I've learned to say no to:

  1. Meetings that could be messages on Slack
  2. Multiple persons participating in the same meeting (we have now, for example, decided that I'm the only person joining our first sales meetings with customers, and only if it's promising, we will use anyone else's time.)
  3. Saying no to customers that aren't a good fit for us --> If I believe that they won't buy, I won't use the time for building offers, etc.

Build processes & automation.

This is key when moving to a 4-day workweek. You need to be able to automate things and do things more efficiently. I feel like we tried to do things the same way in the beginning, but soon we realized there wasn't enough time there. We realized that there are some repetitive tasks we do manually --> We used tools to do things more efficiently.

Let's take a simple example of social media content distribution.

Before: If we had something we wanted to share on LinkedIn, e.g., a webinar --> We shared that on Slack --> Everyone did a LinkedIn post around that manually.

Now: I'm joining a webinar with Recright and did a post around that directly to Buffer for everyone as a Draft, and they can just quickly do some edits and schedule it.

Both of these challenges are solved now.

Is there a reason why we wouldn't continue this?

Right now, not. We will discuss this internally next week, and I'm sure everyone will say we should continue this.

However, there are three things I'm personally a bit worried about as we continue to do so. These are just things I will be monitoring closely as the Founder of the business.

Problem 1: What happens when a 4-day workweek is normal for our team?

Since we have been a pilot mode for three months and our team loves the idea of the 4-day workweek, they are working hard --> Why? --> To make sure it continues.

One of the biggest reasons a 4-day workweek works is that people are more efficient.

The efficiency is there initially, but what will happen in the long run?

I think for most companies working for five days a week, there is a lot of time for chilling and doing the work in a relaxed way --> Will our team be missing that chilling feeling?

Problem 2: Is there enough time for thinking?

One benefit of doing five days a week is that there is more time for thinking. Now when you need to be efficient, there isn't much time for that.

I believe that in the short term, that doesn't matter much, but I'm a bit worried about what will happen to our ability to innovate in the long run.

This might also affect the work-life balance. Now our team says that the 4-day workweek is better, but during the working days people often say that there is a lot of work to be done during the day and there isn't that "free time" during the working days that there used to be while working for five days.

Problem 3: Our invoicing

We as a company believe that the value should pay you and we are paying the same salaries to our people that we were paying while working for five days a week.

And based on everything, people can achieve the same results in 4 days as in 5 days.

But here comes the challenges:

Some of our customers want to buy hours over results.

Let's imagine that we are competing in a case against our competitor, and we are both offering embed recruiter with 100% allocation.

Their recruiter will work 37,5 hours a week.

Our Recruiter will work 30 hours a week.

I'm sure we get the same things done within that time because we can be more efficient, have automation, etc.

But the problem is with customers who don't believe a 4-day workweek is possible.

They only look at the hourly price, and our hourly price is a bit higher compared to companies with a 5-day workweek. And we will most likely lose those cases.

The price tag is quite similar. Around 12 000€ / month. Whether you buy from our competitors or us, but with us, you get fewer hours (but the same results.)

But maybe that's ok, and they are not culture-fit customers for us.

Here are my learnings from moving to a 4-day workweek.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me on LinkedIn. I'm also super happy to join podcasts/webinars to share my learnings about the topic.