streamGo and the transition to a 4-day working week

Here at Four Day Week we are incredibly excited to speak to progressive companies that are embracing a flexible working model. As part of our specific focus on how these companies transition to successfully implementing a four-day working week, we caught up with virtual and hybrid events platform streamGo, who have recently announced that it plans to implement a pure four-day working week.

As part of this transition, the organisation’s employees are currently working a 32-hour, 4.5 day working week in order to see how it affects operations, allowing the business to resolve any unforeseen challenges that may arise. 

streamGo will then move to a four-day 28-hour week by mid-2022, with no alterations to pay or benefits, and with staff effectively gaining more than 50 days of annual leave in addition to their existing allowance.

We speak to streamGo’s founder and Production Director Richard Lee, and its Head of Marketing Andrew Dipper, who also helped roll-out a four-day-working policy at his previous employer. 

Four Day Week: What inspired the initial idea to shift to a pure 4-day working week? Has streamGo piloted anything similar in the past?

Richard Lee: So yes and no…

Prior to the pandemic, I was already working a four-day-week. A number of employees also chose to work four days to support their work/life balance. So in some respects, we’ve trialled this in small pockets, know how much of a positive impact it can have, and are now looking to roll out further across the whole business.

We’re taking a phased approach to the rollout, so we’ve already moved to a 4.5 day week to iron out any unexpected challenges ahead – we’re a few weeks into that now, and so far so good.

Andrew Dipper: Just on your question around what inspired the initial idea… Recently everyone in the business, including our remote employees, met up and reviewed our values to make sure they still reflected who we are as a group of people. 

One of our core values is working smarter, and that sparked a discussion around how we could all work smarter as a team. The main question was: how can we drive increases in productivity, and how would that not only benefit the business but everyone employed at streamGo? That was really how the conversation started. 

Four Day Week: What immediate impact on productivity and staff do you expect to see in reducing the full week to 28 hours?

Andrew Dipper: Well, first and foremost our hope is that our employees experience a positive reduction in stress levels and general well-being. That’s really at the heart of our new policy and if we don’t see that then the policy will have failed.

Richard Lee: On the productivity side of things we’ve been very transparent that another key success metric for this policy will be no drop in business outcomes.

I think for a long time we’ve had a very outdated view of work in this country, and there’s often more of an emphasis on presenteeism vs output.

So our deal is that we pay employees 100% of pay for 80% of the time they spend at work, and the expectation is that productivity remains at 100% or there abouts.

Now of course that will mean making changes to how we work and, most importantly, thinking very critically about how time is spent during work hours.

Are you really needed in a meeting? Is there a way to automate any manual tasks you’re currently doing? All these little things can easily make up a half-day or full day over the course of a week.

Four Day Week: Once the company is operating on a purely 4-day basis, do you plan to rotate the additional day or will these 4 working days be fixed for most employees?

Richard Lee: To be truthful, we’re not sure yet. As you say, there are a few approaches we can take – some companies would prefer everyone to be off on a particular day as that’s a quiet period for them and they can effectively shut the office. It also removes the admin burden of having to organise rotas.

Other companies look to have coverage throughout the week to respond to customer requests or queries – and in many service businesses completely shutting on a particular day is just not feasible.

I think regardless of the approach we take, we’d be looking to make sure clients can use our platform whenever they want to – we’ll remain as flexible as they need us to.

At the same time, we plan to give all employees an extended break so every weekend is almost like a bank holiday weekend and they really feel the benefit of that.

Four Day Week:  Has this move allowed streamGo to move to a more economic/greener way of working (reducing office size, for example)?

Andrew Dipper: To be honest, although this will help reduce our carbon footprint, we’ve always strived to be an environmentally-friendly company. Our virtual events platform enables our customers to meet their own carbon goals by encouraging hybrid or virtual experiences where possible.   

Richard Lee: In terms of office space, we’ve not made any changes to this, and in fact we’ve recently made sure every single streamGo employee has their own desk should they wish to work from our office and COVID regulations permit it.

Of course, as we grow the business that may change, and you’re right to point out that another advantage of a four-day week is that – should we eventually move to a hot-desk policy – we could negate the need to move into larger office space.

Four Day Week: Given your experience in making this happen, is there any specific advice you would give to other companies also considering the viability of moving to a pure 4 day week? 

Richard Lee: Sure! I think first and foremost, from a contractual perspective you need to decide and then communicate any changes to terms of employment. On our side, there’ll be no changes to pay, benefits, or holiday entitlement – the only thing changing is the number of hours a streamGo employee will work each week.

The next thing I’d look at is being clear about how you’re going to measure the policy. In our case, our expectation is that productivity levels at worst stay static, the output is the same, clients are happy and employee well-being and general happiness grows.

Andrew Dipper: Just to build on Rich’s point around employee well-being, we do see our new shorter working policy as a big point of difference in terms of talent acquisition and employee retention.

There are very few four-day-week providers here in the North East, and we know from our own research that ‘The Great Resignation’ has been at least in part fuelled by burnout and that lack of flexibility from their existing employer, whether that’s in relation to home working, shorter working or flexitime – all of which we offer.  

Richard Lee: Absolutely. I think another aspect we spent a long time considering was how this policy would be communicated, both internally and to our clients. For our 4.5 day rollout, everyone at streamGo has updated email signatures to explain what the new policy is and why we’re implementing it.

We also make sure out-of-office replies are turned on, and, should a client wish to run their event on a Friday afternoon, we’ll of course accommodate that with our production teams taking the time back elsewhere that week.

Four Day Week: Do you have any plans on how you will use your additional day off?

Andrew Dipper:So, for me, it’ll be a real mix of extra time with family and friends, extended walks with the dog, the life-admin that normally clogs up your weekend, and brushing up on my Italian.  

Richard Lee:When we asked our team, we got a really wide range of responses.

Like Andrew, many of our employees told us they’d be spending more time with their family and friends which was great to hear.

One person said they were planning to learn Spanish, another is going to focus on developing their macrame skills, and one member of our team is going to grow their Etsy craft business.

I think the key thing from my point of view is that they spend their time in a way that ultimately improves mental well-being, happiness, and work/life balance. That’s the key.