WANdisco’s Journey to a 4-Day Work Week
By Anne Lynch, Mar 17, 2022
A shorter work week increases productivity, enhances employee well-being, and boosts benefits to retain and attract top talent.
Working from home was an obvious, if not necessary, choice for many companies at the start of the 2020 global pandemic. In 2022, as we enter a “new normal” hybrid work model with increased flexibility as the norm, increased productivity the expectation, and increased competition the new reality for talent, where do we go from here when it comes to creating a compelling employee value proposition that increases the well-being and work-life balance for employees while honoring and evolving the productivity gains from the last few years?
At WANdisco, we believe that a natural continuation of the work-from-home trend is a move to a four-day work week. On February 7, 2022, we shifted to a permanent four-day working week for the business, which means that all WANdisco employees can choose to move to a 40-hour work week over four days, with pay at the same contracted salary and all benefits staying the same. Fridays are expected to be the default non-working days for the majority of employees, but this scheme is flexible.
How we got to a 4-day work week
Our decision to move to a four-day work week evolved from the fact that our employees had already been working from home over the past two years and over time have adapted to a new way of working. What we’ve learned from this is that we could work smarter, better, and more efficiently. In fact, rather than seeing a decline in productivity, we’ve seen a jump. This increase in productivity is derived from a number of factors, including spending less or no time commuting to the office, keeping the duration of meetings to a minimum, and eliminating meetings on Fridays. The latter decision was made due to the challenges that come from working remotely, such as working too much, given the difficulties of separating one’s work life from home life.
Shorter work weeks have worked since the 1970s
The shorter work week is not a new concept. During the early 1970s, the United Kingdom adopted a three-day work week to conserve electricity consumption and the life of coal stocks. Commercial users of electricity were limited to three consecutive days' consumption each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. People feared that such a move would crush productivity; yet in fact, productivity went up, as people found ways to work effectively within the new time structure.
This new work structure has gathered steam over the last several years at a number of companies, including Microsoft Japan. Workers there not only get a three-day weekend, they also get their normal five-day paycheck. According to Microsoft, the result was a productivity boost of 40%.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, went to a shorter work week after realizing a 20% gain in employee productivity as part of a trial of paying people their regular salary for working just four days.
But business productivity is only part of the story — and benefit — of a shorter work week. Both Microsoft Japan and Perpetual Guardian equally saw a 45% increase in employee well-being and work-life balance after paying them the same salary over four days.
At WANdisco, our people have always been the priority. Not only do we want to be productive as a business, we also want our employees to thrive in both work and life, and we believe that a four-day work week will offer our team greater flexibility and contribute to their well-being. The move to a four-day work week has been covered by The Financial Times, CNN, TechRegister, and other publications.
The payoff of employee perks in a hot job market
Not only did our new four-day work week evolve from the work-from-home model, it also came on the heels of increased competition among companies trying to attract and retain talent. Because the pandemic has enabled businesses to hire workers from anywhere in the world, it has also unleashed a broader and more competitive talent pool.
WANdisco CEO David Richards explained in a recent interview just how competitive this market is: “We've had very large, very wealthy software companies come and offer our staff as much as three-times salary increases in lots of different locations. We can't compete with companies that have trillion-dollar market caps. Salary is just a small aspect, and we pay very well...we retain staff because we do things like this.”
So far, the new incentive is paying off: One of our employees recently declined a job offer from a competitor after we introduced a shorter work week.
At WANdisco, we believe that by putting our people first we will see enormous benefits in the long run as a business. We will continue to look for ways to reward and empower our employees and give them greater flexibility with their time — now and well into the future.
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Anne Lynch, SVP of Human Resources, WANdisco
Prior to joining WANdisco, Anne was vice president of human resources and a 16(b) officer at Envivio. Before that, she was vice president of human resources at Harmonic, Inc., as well as director general of Harmonic Europe. Anne has also held senior-level positions at Quantum (Seagate), Schlumberger Limited, and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Anne earned her bachelor’s degree at Clarke University and completed graduate studies in Linguistics at Emory University and postgraduate studies at Paris-Sorbonne University. She has a Master of Arts in business leadership and ethics from Saint Mary’s College of California.