Understanding the benefits of the 4-day week
“We engaged with Ultimate Resilience, and within a short amount of time, we knew they were a partner who would not only take this project seriously, but had the experience and expertise required to provide detailed analysis of the trial.” Bob Sahota, Sales Director, Highgate IT Solutions
In this blog we bring you exclusive insights from a unique project conducted by our team aimed at understanding the benefits of the 4-day week.
With work changed irreversibly by the pandemic and companies seeking novel ways to attract and retain scarce talent, many are now looking to implement measures that enhance wellbeing and quality of life. Of particular interest and increasing popularity are measures that allow a more flexible working pattern or reduced hours, such as moving to a 4-day working week (4DW). But how can we know that these new ways of working are bringing tangible benefits to companies and their staff?
Measuring the impact of the 4DW
In March 2022 we began working with Highgate IT Solutions to evaluate their 4DW trial. Over a period of six months, they piloted reducing staff working hours to 4 days per week with no loss of pay.
Sales Director at Highgate IT, Bob Sahota explained why they took this step: “Having just come off the back of a few difficult years with the pandemic, it became evident that as human beings ‘time’ was our most valuable non-renewable resource and if we could find a way to give our employees some of that precious time back, it will go a long way in supporting their work/life balance, mental health and overall wellbeing.”
Given the high stakes involved in making this type of change, the company needed to know whether the new working pattern was achieving their overall goal of improving staff work-life experience and wellbeing. Stuart Marginson, Founder and MD at Highgate IT knew that a systematic evaluation would be the most effective way to gain objective insights into employee experience of the 4DW.
In commissioning Ultimate Resilience, an independent company, to conduct this evaluation, Stuart chose to take a gold standard approach: “We felt a change of this magnitude needed external professional eyes on our methods and process, in order to ensure our results were accurately and independently assessed”.
Bob Sahota added they were also keen to share project insights with their professional community too, noting “If we wanted the findings of our trial to be useful to the wider industry and beyond, they had to be impartial and from a trusted third-party that specialises in this space.”
What did we do?
We developed a bespoke staff survey aimed at assessing employee work-life experience, emotional exhaustion and included measures of wellbeing and resilience. Highgate employees completed the survey at the start and end of the trial. Additional survey questions focusing on employee experience of the 4DW and its impact on their personal and professional lives, were included in the second survey.
What were the results?
There was an excellent response rate, with 88% of employees completing the survey at the outset and 96% at the close of the trial.
Wellbeing, resilience and work-life experience
Responses at the first time-point in March 2022 showed high levels of job satisfaction, resilience and wellbeing, and low levels of emotional exhaustion, demonstrating that Highgate IT already had effective staff support practices in place. However, at the end of the trial, the overall picture was even more positive, with increases in wellbeing and resilience, as well as further improvements in work-life experience and reductions in emotional exhaustion.
Highgate employees reported that the switch to a 4DW provided multiple benefits to their personal lives. These included having more time to connect with friends and family, engage in hobbies and interests and to complete life admin tasks. Being able to attend appointments and complete household tasks during the week also freed up time at the weekend for rest and relaxation.
Many respondents reported professional growth and development through the trial period. They described learning new skills, working more efficiently, organising and planning their time more effectively. There were also reports of improved focus, concentration and motivation for work.
Challenges of the 4DW
The majority of responses indicated that there were either no challenges or just some initial challenges which resolved by the end of the trail. Most commonly these related to adapting to a new buddy system which was designed to support the trial by providing cover when staff were off.
Overall, the findings of our trial evaluation indicated that the impact of switching to the 4DW pattern was a hugely positive development for Highgate IT employees. The results showed that the new working pattern provided increased opportunity for staff to engage in activities that are known to enhance personal resilience and wellbeing. In addition, the 4DW led to improved workplace resilience through the development of new skills, enhanced flexibility and adaptability to future challenges. This was borne out in data collected using standardised measures, which showed increases in scores for resilience and wellbeing over the course of the trial.
Having conducted a robust evaluation of their 4DW trial, the Highgate IT team were able to make an informed decision about whether continuing with the new working pattern was right for them and for their business. Following completion of the trial, the company has now moved to the 4DW permanently.
If you’re thinking about introducing a new working pattern into your organisation or are interested in understanding the impact of a new initiative, why not get in touch for a chat.