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The software and data engineering company, headquartered in New York City, began testing a four-day workweek in August to help prevent employee burnout and maintain work-life balance during the pandemic.

The company moved away entirely in March 2020 and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future.

The plan was to try 10-hour days Monday through Thursday for two months. To see what workers thought about the new schedule, the company surveyed employees on the shift before, during and after the trial period.

“You really have to focus on empowering the team and making the decision together because everyone has to make changes in their lives,” said Art Shectman, Founder and President.

It took about three to four weeks for employees to adjust, he said. After the first three-day weekend, workers came back rested and excited, but by the end of that week, they felt the effects of the longer days and readjusting to their normal routines.

“By week three, it was more routine. People were really starting to have adventures and to plan ahead and take advantage of the three day weekend.

In the end, the compressed work week was well received, so much so that the company embraced the schedule all the time.

More flexibility leads to greater worker satisfaction

While most employees now start their days at 7:00 a.m. and log off at 6:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break, the hours are somewhat flexible. On the one hand, it is not possible to start so early for all employees, including Shectman.

“I’m the fun morning daddy, which means I get the kids up and give them breakfast … I do the morning routine.” From 7:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. I leave for family duty, so I try to start early or extend a little later. ”

Employees can save hours on Friday or on weekends if they cannot do their working hours in four days. “We trust people to fill in the gaps if they miss hours,” Shectman said.

Product and Project Manager Jonathan Cook has been with the company for almost four years. He said he was a little skeptical about the schedule change at first – but puzzled.

He and his wife both work full time and have two boys aged 4 and 7. His day also starts a little later due to his homework, so he tends to work two more hours after the kids go to bed.

The extra day allows him to get personal commitments and errands; and spend more quality time with their children. “It’s a leeway … where I can sit down and keep our life in order,” he said.

Fewer meetings, more workspace

Along with the schedule change, the company aimed to make meetings more efficient and not schedule meetings before 9:00 a.m. Having those first two hours of the day open to deep work has been a boon to productivity, Shectman said.

“The halo effect of this early productivity and deep work results in greater productivity throughout the day,” he said.

The company also tries to avoid having meetings from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“You get this double whammy of headlong working time in one day, which hasn’t always happened in the eight-hour workday,” Cook said.

Longer working days have also improved efficiency because projects do not span multiple days.

“The time needed to get things done was shorter, projects go faster, you don’t have to put them down and go back to them,” Shectman said.

Make the change

The company has also grown since its passage by adding 13 employees since the beginning of the year for a total of 54 full-time employees. He opened an office in New Zealand last week.

“[Shorter work weeks] Absolutely help us win the recruiting battles you engage in to gain top talent and that’s absolutely a retention benefit, ”Shectman said. Once you adjust to it, it’s hard to switch to another schedule. “

But Shectman said business leaders need to encourage open conversations in order to make the new calendar work well.

“If you’re a top-down management organization used to giving orders, that won’t work,” he said. “Employees certainly don’t want their workplace to dictate how their personal lives are organized and so for us it was everyone’s decision.

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