When the 4-day week turns sour

At the end of its pilot project, this company had no choice but to end it. (Photo: Bruno Emmanuelle for Unsplash)

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RÉVEIL-MATIN. That The four-day workweek has many benefits that have been discussed many times in this section.

To (re)read: Accountants say goodbye to the 4-day week, six months out of the year, The 4-day week in Eidos Studios’ sights, The 4-day week is in the bag

However, this is not always synonymous with fairy tales. Speak to Rebecca Brooks, CEO of California marketing consultancy Alter Agents.

She has attempted to reduce the number of hours her 23 employees work from 40 to 32 in a 10-week pilot, she told Fast Company.

In order to determine whether the initiative was actually a success, Alter Agents made no mention to its customers that it would adopt such a schedule: if it saw nothing but fire, the game would be won.

Employees were therefore responsible for adjusting their timesheets to avoid business disruption. In addition, only one person per team was allowed to be absent each day.

During the pilot, this asymmetry created frustration among employees, as not everyone had the same ability to stay apart.

While some didn’t touch their email or computer, others couldn’t help but glance or even complete some tasks. However, the CEO ensures that the organization has repeatedly reiterated the importance of these days off to recharge.

Results half fig, half grape

Results half fig, half grape

Though some assignments slipped through the cracks due to misunderstandings, her clients haven’t noticed the change, as she revealed after the pilot ended.

The conclusions of the past investigation to assess its impact on his team’s morale were not so encouraging as the experience had the opposite effect to what was expected.

“Successful adoption of the four-day workweek requires a thorough investigation of the conditions that lead to burnout that are unique in the industry,” said Myra Altman, psychologist and vice president of mental health at Modern Health, a business platform.

If the return to the five-day week and 40-hour work was greeted with no annoyance by its employees, the CEO says, such a decision, even as part of a pilot project, is likely to go down badly with some who can see there’s a loss of privilege .

In order to avoid the consequences, it is therefore essential to explain the reasons for this “backtracking” without pointing the finger at an employee or a department whose productivity has suffered as a result of the four-day week, warns Netta Rotstein, Recruitment Advisor at Engage PEO.

She recommends offering another service to compensate for this deprivation. In particular, for Alter Agents, this has resulted in the addition of one flexible day off per month. Rachel Brooks assures that the members of his team fit into the schedule more easily and can now really switch off.

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