4 day week

Why we’re in favour of a shorter working week

The studio on a regular Friday
The studio on a regular Friday

At Normally we work 4 days a week, every week.

Working 4 days is making us happier, healthier, and more productive. We genuinely believe that having this balance improves the quality of our work. But more than that – we have learned that giving ourselves an extra day has huge personal and social benefits. We have the time to take care of our families, our interests and ourselves. We often get asked why we do it and what it’s like to work in this way. We’ve collected some of the most frequently asked questions here.

How did the 4 day week start?

When we founded Normally in 2014 we questioned all the ‘norms’ of running a business, like working five days a week. Some of us had young children, and others didn’t want to postpone activities that enrich our lives until retirement. So we took the opportunity to try an experiment – could the whole studio work a 4-day week and still be productive and profitable? Four years into this experiment, the answer is yes!

Do you all take the same day off?

No – we are free to take whichever day we like, but most often, people default to a Friday. We work in small teams and have the autonomy to manage our time as we see fit. As long as we communicate with our team and clients, it doesn’t matter what day we choose.

Do you work longer days?

No - we work a normal working day. We try to avoid working late evenings or weekends and succeed most of the time.

We recognise the perils of presenteeism and do everything in our power to avoid longer working hours. If anyone does have to work late, it is not regarded as a sign of commitment but as a sign that we need to understand the cause and work on how to work more efficiently.

What do you do with your day off?

Everyone uses their 5th day differently. Many parents use it to care for their children. We also ride mountain bikes, read, visit museums, volunteer, hike, bake bread, teach, travel, learn instruments, brew cider and do laundry. There are no rules about our 5th day – just don’t work on it!

There are no rules about our 5th day – just don’t work on it.

What are the benefits?

We’ve found that by reducing the time we spend at work, we treat the time we do have with more care. It encourages us to to be mindful of how we use our time and gets the team to think about the most effective way they can create value.

What do your clients think?

We’re lucky to have an incredible group of supportive clients. Many of them return to work with us again and again which we think is testament to the fact that it works for them too.

Do you earn less?

No – we pay competitive salaries compared to similar businesses which work 5 days.

Are there any negatives for the team?

Generally, we’re conditioned to work for five straight days - then spend two recovering with family and friends. We are not used to having a day to ourselves - or by ourselves. We found that some of the team did not know what to do with their fifth day. Some of us struggled to know who we were when we were not at work or with our families. For those, it has been a process of discovery - and not always an easy one.

Is anyone else doing this?

The shift to a 4 day week is gaining popularity and there are some other organisations and companies experimenting with this approach.

What advice would you give organisations looking to work in this way?

We had the privilege of being able to bake the 4 day week into our culture from the beginning and appreciate how much more difficult it is to bring this to established and larger organisations. However - we do think it is possible. We think there are three things an organisation needs to do if it has any hope of adopting a shorter working week - these are belief, adjustment and commitment.

  1. First of all, senior management needs to believe it is possible and trust the benefits! This is probably harder than it sounds.
  2. They need to make organisational adjustments to working practices and behaviours. They need to revisit how the organisation collaborates and communicates and redefine what productivity and commitment means to the organisation.
  3. Finally, they need to protect it. It needs full, non-negotiable commitment if employees are to trust it.

How can I find out more?

If you want to find out more about the affects of a 4 day week at Normally and other businesses you can view this feature by BBC News, look at the 4 Day Week Campaign or the Green Party who have recently added it to their manifesto.

BBC News: Would a four-day week boost productivity?

If you want advice on implementing a similar policy in your business please do contact us.