5in4: Working a 5 day week in 4: the reason for continuing /// IB

It is 3 months since we have been working a shorter week by concentrating 5 days of work into 4.The pros and cons have been much debated in the office but the anonymous decision is to continue for another 3 months, maybe for a full year.

The adjustment has been more difficult then we envisaged. The system does not work for staff who are commuting, some of us have not been able, or willing, to free Fridays of work, and long days are very tiring. There are concerns about productivity since we are all counting hours much more and overtime is impossible within the 4 days – challenging the overtime culture, established in our profession, was one of the incentives for this experiment but it is too early to assess its impact on business viability.

But there are also some great surprises – the ‘outside’ world has not been as condemning as might have been expected. We phonecalls on Friday have been very few – from 0 to 4 – and the volume of e-mails greatly reduced. It would seem that a lot of e-mails are generated by the office itself! Urgent phonecalls have been picked up on mobiles by job architects and none of them were really urgent.

Most clients and consultants respect the idea and wish they could implement it in their own offices. Many potential employees expressed the view that such working conditions would be a great bonus to them.

Other, less measurable things are emerging. There is a good moral in the team and a sense of purpose.  We are driven and creativity is flowing.

Private lives are enriched by longer weekends. We make different use of these: some for building homes, some for being with their families, and some for thinking, reading and working in a way that is simply not possible during a normal working day.

The big question that will eventually come up is whether we can reduce working week to 4 days of normal working hours – this will require a loss of earnings. The letting go of earning potential is the hardest obstacle of all – we need to get used to having less but this is easy for me to say because I am from a generation that had more then we needed.

But looking at the talented and accomplished people that make up our team we are all privileged and  we all have enough but the habits and values of consumer society made us dependent on having more. The ultimate purpose of 5 in 4 is to wean ourselves of this dependency.

  • Hiya
    I’ve been following your posts with great interest. I work what is notionally a four day week too!
    Your last post suggests that you’re struggling to find the perfect compromise, so for what it’s worth I thought I’d off an idea I saw elsewhere recently. It’s not intended as a solution as such – more a thought that might inform what you’re doing. Basically, I came across a design company who have a formal ‘F**k Off Friday’ program: Anyone who’s been really stretched Monday to Thursday does what it says in the title. If 5 in 4 proves a bit too radical I think there might be scope – having now established Fridays as sacrosanct – to do something along the same flexible lines. I’m imagining a ‘5 in 4 Lite’ with no admin, no client contact and a focus on the creative part of the job. That said I can see how this runs the risk of watering down what at the moment is so very clear-cut.
    I’m sure you’re way ahead of me on this but if nothing else it’s good to know you’re not alone!
    Good luck!

    • Hi Will,

      We have now been trialing 5in4 for a year already (where does time go!), we have scheduled a big review meeting so that we can all discuss our experience so far and as well as what works and what doesn’t. This will lead us to discuss whether we continue with the current format, we revert to a standard 5day week or we adjust the 5in4 model and continue our trial. We will share more on the blog.

      Thanks for your comment and very sorry for our late reply!