Making Four-Day Workweeks Work

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During the pandemic, many businesses had to pivot and adapt to the changing world. Many people found that remote work was the new “normal,” and that they now had the time and space to focus on improving work-life balance. Before the pandemic, creative communications company, Praytell Agency, already had flexible, remote work options but found there were even more ways to meet employee needs. So, they introduced the four-day workweek. 

CircleAround spoke with Sanji Moore, Praytell senior vice president of people and operations, to learn how her company implemented the four-day workweek and what was learned in the process. 

Before going full-steam ahead with the four-day workweek in October 2021, Praytell Agency first experimented with unconventional work hours. Then, they eased into the new schedule. Moore tells CircleAround that the new program wouldn’t be possible without help from the employees who were the real inspiration. “With so many of us feeling the physical, mental, and emotional toll the past years have taken on us, we didn’t need to read about burnout in the news — we could see it all around us … the four-day workweek was a start.” 

Such a novel approach to the traditional 9-5 job schedule did require a bit of strategy, however — especially with over 150 employees working remotely. Here are a few ways this company was able to make the four-day workweek work. 

1They Implemented Simple and Clear Guidelines

Moore says creating a flexible and clear structure was an important part of developing the four-day workweek plan. “For Praytell, we’ve put in some simple and clear guidelines that were created in partnership with department leaders and employees at all levels,” she tells CircleAround. Some key components Praytell follows are:

  • Employees work Monday to Thursday, with one to two people from each team “on call” monitoring for any urgent needs.

  • Unless they are on vacation or off for another reason, employees should be reachable in case of emergency.

  • Working smarter during the week by making small adjustments such as eliminating meetings that can be emails or creating working sessions to move more quickly.

2They Valued Employee Feedback

Moore says employee input was vital in determining whether the plan was actually working for all involved. “Building the structure together has helped us all stay on track and meet the needs of our clients as well as each other,” she says.

Moore and her team also understand that there is always room for improvement, and that while every opportunity to create a positive outcome is prepared, only through testing and learning can companies figure out what works and what doesn’t. “We’re not precious about the structure, which has been a helpful mindset to have when building a program like this,” she adds. 

3They Considered Key Takeaways and Learned from Them

Moore shared a few key takeaways Praytell has learned so far from testing out the four-day workweek these past few months:

  • Overall, clients seem supportive of the structure. They appreciate the transparency and organization, especially the “on-call” system Praytell put into place.

  • The vast majority of Praytell employees have felt a positive impact in their lives, particularly in their health, due to this schedule. Their feedback is taken seriously and their input is vital as the program continues to evolve, especially in an effort to combat workplace burnout.

  • It provides a more flexible schedule for those who like to structure their time independently. For example, Moore mentioned that some people still work on Fridays, but they are able to enjoy the space and time to focus during the day without emails coming in. In this sense, even though they’re working five days in the week, they’re still experiencing a positive change.

The Bottom Line

Adapting can mean changing the way we work, the schedules we follow, and how we spend our time. It’s encouraging to know that the four-day workweek is currently being tested and companies like Praytell Agency are experiencing positive results. Perhaps, in the future, we will all follow suit.

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, Working From Home

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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