Company with a 4-day work week on the biggest problems to solve
Buffer prides itself on being ahead of the curve. The 84-person social media company has long embraced remote working (it got rid of its office in 2015), pay transparency (it publishes everyone’s salary online) and other flexibility options. workplace since it was co-founded by Joel Gascoigne over a decade ago. since.
When the pandemic hit, Gascoigne saw stressed employees each give three-day weekends for the month of May 2020. What started as a month-long experiment has now become a permanent policy, and at the end of 2021, an employee survey found that 91% of workers were happier and more productive with a four-day work week.
But the company had to overcome a few sticking points to make it really work. Here are the four biggest problems Buffer had to overcome in adopting a four-day work week.
The first thing to do was figure out how everyone would do their job on time, says Hailley Griffis, Buffer’s public relations manager.
In the first month, most teams operated with the idea that they were getting the same amount of work done in a shorter amount of time, but they realized that wasn’t going to be sustainable.
“The short-term instinct is to do things the way they were in four days and get through it,” says Griffis. “But in the long term, you have to ask yourself: how should we do things differently?”
To get everyone closer to a 32-hour, four-day work week, they had to change the way they worked. Buffer teams reduced the number of meetings (Griffis’ weekly marketing checks became monthly), moved to asynchronous communication tools like Threads, and adjusted expectations for how long it would take to meet project deadlines.
It took a big shift in mindset, starting with the top leadership, says Griffis. “Going into projects knowing that we have four days instead of five, you get used to it.
Then comes another problem: do people secretly work on Fridays in order to get all their work done?
According to employee surveys, 73% of workers say they do work a shortened schedule, whether it’s a four-day week or a shorter five-day week. The remaining 27% of employees say they work an average of four and a half days, with a few hours on the fifth day to catch up on quick tasks or emails.
Structure versus flexibility
Another big challenge was determining which day to take off. At first, Buffer gave each team their own pick. Griffis’ team took off on Wednesday: “You never work more than two days in a row. It’s really phenomenal.”
But when it got too disorganized, people still had to work with other teams. — Buffer standardized to Fridays off.
7 day coverage
Buffer employees all have a Friday off with one exception: their customer service department.
They offer customer support seven days a week, Griffis explains, which means these team members are still working shortened weeks, but on a staggered rotation to cover weekends.
With that in mind, the company has hired additional customer staff during the pandemic to maintain coverage while offering individuals a shortened week.