Earlier in the year we announced that we were trialling a 4-day working week.
The trial was was planned for 6 months and was limited to our weekday Support team, who worked the same hours each day but for 4 days instead of 5 (32 hours per week instead of 40). Support coverage remained the same as before; seven days a week, from 06:00 until midnight.
The hope was that the extra time off would reduce stress and make staff happier and more productive. Unfortunately, we found the opposite was true.
What happened during the trial
While team members did have the benefit of an extra day off, we discovered that the extra recovery time did not increase output by the 20% necessary to replace that which had been lost.
Furthermore, and this is squarely on my shoulders, because I wanted staff to have a 3-day WEEKEND (for maximum recuperation), and not just 3 days off a week, I proposed a schedule that cut the team into 2 groups, with one half having Fridays off and the other half Mondays.
In retrospect, this was an obvious mistake as it meant we only had 50% of our helpdesk available on Mondays, our busiest day. Our week starts busy and it often took until Thursday to be truly back on top of things, then the pattern would repeat. This put staff in an impossible position; either stay late to clear the backlog or feel guilty about leaving with the helpdesk busy. Either way, a stress-inducing position to be in.
While the team fought admirably to keep on top of work and turned around responses as quickly as possible it came at a cost - work time was now much more stressful than before. The opposite of what we were trying to accomplish.
During the trial you may have experienced support that was slower than you’re used to or not the usual quality. If that’s the case then I’d like to apologise and can reassure you that things will be returning to normal next week.
What we’re going to do about it
We deliberately launched this trial to coincide with the lower seasonal support levels we experience during the summer holidays. Support volume picks up as the days get shorter and we realised after the summer holidays that we wouldn’t be able to continue the trial without either damaging staff morale, the quality of support, or both.
The fairest thing is to end the trial as quickly as practical and revert to 5 days. So from Monday, October 2nd staff will work 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. Crucially, this will provide full coverage on Mondays and ensure that the working week gets off on the right foot.
While the outcome isn’t what we expected, I’m glad that we tried. Our heart was in the right place and the exercise hasn’t been a total failure. After listening to feedback we’ve made a major adjustment I hope will improve staff work-life balance with fewer tradeoffs - staff can now finish at 17:00 instead of 18:00 and have more evening time.
We’re also hiring for 5 additional support staff to bolster the team by 20% (in addition to the 20% output we’re aiming to recover from going back to 5 days). I’m confident that support levels will be back to the usual levels you’ve come to know and expect in no time at all.
As a business we're always looking for ways to improve the way we operate, for our clients, our staff and the planet. Thank you for your ongoing support during this particular trial.
About the author
In 2002, frustrated by poor service and bad business practices, I created Krystal to provide an “Honest, Reliable & Personal” alternative to the large faceless hosting corporations. We’re in business because we’re passionate about technology & solving problems.
Join our newsletter
No spam. Just the latest news, events, product updates, promotions and more delivered to your inbox.