Flexible working: Productivity, happiness and the working week

Flexible working and a four day week; how it aids productivity and happiness.

A lot of discussion has been ignited with the results of a recent trial that seems to empirically demonstrate that working a four-day-week is both less stressful and positive for staff productivity. The now-famous experiment at New Zealand based Perpetual Guardian, who last year switched its employees to a four day working week whilst maintaining their salaries, continues to provide data supporting the positive benefits of the now-permanent trial.

Studies of the trial at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology found both a reduction in work stress and, unsurprisingly, an increase in scores relating to work-life balance as a result of knocking a day off the working week.

The Chief Executive of Perpetual Guardian, Andrew Barnes, was quoted saying that companies would be surprised by the positive impact of shortening the working week and that other companies should consider giving flexible working practices a go. Well, here at Four Day Week we decided to undertake our own study on the experience of two companies who have done just that.

Doist – Fully Flexible Organisers

We caught up with Andrew Gobran, who works in People Operations at Doist, creators of Todoist and Twist, a fully-remote company of 60+ people who are distributed across the world. Andrew provided us with some insight on the Doist experience of full-flexi, remote working.  We asked how the flexibility that Doist offers to its workers impacts the overall productivity of the company.​

“Being a distributed team is core to how we work and it impacts everything we do at Doist, including our productivity. Doist’s overall productivity is a result of the productivity of each individual and team.

Giving each individual the freedom and responsibility to work when and how they like means that they will be able to produce higher quality work which directly impacts their immediate team and then the company as a whole.” ​

Sounds great, but how does the company see this being beneficial for employees?

“Every person thrives under different conditions. Giving our team freedom, as well as great perks and benefits, to customize their work and support their well-being, means that they’ll be able to thrive in their work.

By focusing first on our team’s well-being and freedom, they benefit first and then the company as a result.”

Brett Nicholls Associates – Four Day Week  Accountants

We also spoke to Dana Stoddart from Glasgow-based accountancy firm Brett Nicholls Associates, on the company’s trial of a four day working week. On the productivity side, it would appear that the results have been similar to those experienced Perpetual Guardian.

“High levels of productivity have been maintained in our firm throughout our trial of the four day week, despite the trial beginning just before our busiest period of the year.

One of the reasons for this may be the ‘two Fridays’ effect where staff work hard to clear their desks and meet client demands by the end of the Wednesday as the office is closed on Thursday. They return fresh on Friday and are able to prioritise the work which must be completed by the end of the day/week.”

It would also seem that the work-life balance for employees at Brett Nicholls Associates has also been positively impacted by the transition.

“It’s great to have a day to do appointments/cleaning/washing etc., and general “life admin”. Things that we’d ordinarily have to spend evenings doing can be pushed to the Thursday, leaving our evenings free for other things.

For people with families/partners who are also off it is a great idea as it gives them more time to spend with them. For those of us without that, it’s good to have time free to focus on other parts of our lives, such as studying or hobbies, and have time to take for ourselves or for socialising”.

Want to see other other blogs about companies offering four day weeks?Check out our blogs on Type A MediaThe Mix and Future Tonic.