The benefits of the hybrid model of 9 working days per fortnight are similar to those of the four-day week, according to companies that have tried it
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In the four-day work model, workers work only four of the five working days of the week, with no cut in their pay. In a large, six-month trial in the UK, participating companies reported increased productivity, while employees agreed that their quality of life improved.
But for many companies, concern about the impact on profitability and the added workload of fewer days remains, as does the need to serve their customers around the clock.
Sam Franklin, CEO consultant for technology company Otta, told CNBC that cutting a whole day seemed like a big step to him, as he was cutting work hours by 20 percent. “Going from basically 100% of the time to 80% of the time I felt like I was potentially going to mess things up.” And so he came up with an “intermediate solution”: one working day less, every two weeks.
In this way he established a pattern of 5 days of rest in depth of 14 days – as if a three-day period of Friday, Saturday and Sunday coincided, every two weeks. In fact, the employees of the company very often choose the extra day of rest to “fall” on a Friday. Other companies require employees to work more hours on certain days so that they have an extra day off. If the experiment is successful, Otta will move to the four-day work week.
The positives, in practice
The benefits of the hybrid model of 9 working days per two weeks are similar to those of the four-day week, according to companies that have tried it. Productivity increases, employees are satisfied and a better work-life balance is ensured. Franklin notes that the work model often comes up in job interviews, as prospective employees view it positively.
Ben Branson Gately, CEO and co-founder of Charlie HR, which also follows the nine-day model, says he's seen additional benefits compared to the four-day week. “The reason I'm really in favor of (…) is that Thursday doesn't become the new Friday,” he says. Alternating four- and five-day weeks ensures a better balance, he says.
However, this model is not for all businesses either. London-based PR firm Stand is one of them, founder Laura Oliphant explains.
“The benefits were obvious, I felt we were better supporting the mental wellbeing of employees by reducing stress. and burnout, giving employees time to rest. And the team felt more productive. But there were also some disadvantages”, she explains.
Not all employees saw the benefits, and because customers needed to be able to contact someone from the company any day, Stand had to give each employee different days off.
“Creating a rolling schedule was time-consuming and complex, everyone was working to different schedules and teams were strained when the shift coincided with busy holiday periods,” says Oliphant.
Stand now follows a 4.5-day work pattern – Fridays everyone leaves at 1pm, except for one person per team who checks email for important messages.
This solved the problems of the nine-day model, but the benefits remained. . And the biggest lesson Oliphant learned from the experience? “A key takeaway for us is that we shouldn't be limited by a flexible model that works for someone else. It's important to find a model that fits your business and your customers.”