Ever wondered what it’s like to work at a 4 day week company?
The idea of a shorter working week without a pay reduction is still very much in its infancy in the UK. Here at Atlas Translations, we implemented the scheme back in 2019 – and haven’t looked back since!
People are often curious about the ins and outs of how this works in practice and, at the request of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) in the lead up to their Ethical Business Summit in September 2023, we’re giving you a bit of a rundown of our experience as a 4 day week company.
How it all began
As the Director of a small translation agency where there is only so much opportunity for career development and promotion, Clare has always thought about the various ways she can retain her staff and increase employee satisfaction while developing an ethical and sustainable business.
As soon as Clare came across the idea of a 4 day week, she just couldn’t stop thinking about it! And so, without delay, she discussed the matter with the team. Naturally, the idea was met with stunned silence, before mutterings of “What’s the catch?!”. But then the team eagerly joined in on the brain-storming to find the best ways to implement such a big change without it being detrimental to business.
So how does it work?
The team agreed to a 6-month trial period, during which we measured enquiries, profits, and took a look at productivity levels. After the initial 6 months, there was no evidence of a decrease in profits – quite the opposite – and everyone was raving about the positive effects of their shorter working week. It was clear that the 4-day week was here to stay!
Our office is still open from Monday to Friday, with each team member having a different ‘extra’ day off, and the rest of the team covering their projects. We were well-rehearsed for the change thanks to past practice during staff holidays, and we found we were able to adapt to this new scheme relatively quickly, with business continuing as normal.
Benefits of being a 4 day week company
There is no doubt that working a 4 day week helps us to maintain a healthier work-life balance. Staff have more time for hobbies, family activities, errands, and household responsibilities.
Jim, has been more consistent with his Japanese lessons and visits to the gym. James took up playing the saxophone, while Stefania has more time to take her kids for walks in the park. Charlie gets to go on country walks more frequently and take on some extra freelance work, and Joanna is happy to have finally picked up her Spanish lessons again – as well as regular salsa classes!
Our whole team agree that, thanks to being part of a 4 day week company, we feel more relaxed and happy, and burnout is significantly reduced. Having this extra day to ourselves is something we’d be reluctant to give up. And, really, who can blame us?
Challenges of the 4-day work week
At Atlas Translations, whilst we haven’t noticed any long term negative impacts of the 4-day working week, we can signpost a couple of the challenges we experienced in the initial stages, should you be looking to implement the scheme at your organisation.
The first thing to note is time management. Having fewer hours during the week means having to be more efficient and organised with workload, and manage priorities.
Implementing a 4-day week also requires effective and consistent communication between the team. Everyone has to be in the loop! All the projects have to be delivered on time and to the highest standards. Since staff members take care of one another’s projects, everyone is more aware of the day to day running of the business, and more familiar with our clients. This, in turn, makes things much smoother when covering annual leave or sudden sick days.
Give it a go!
From our experience at Atlas Translations, we believe that being a 4 day week company is beneficial to both business and employee well-being. Although it may not work for all companies, it is certainly worth trialling. Who doesn’t want happier and more productive staff?!