Working Smarter to Reap the Benefits of the 4-Day Work Week

After more than three months on a four-day work week, eFileCabinet found the results so far to be astounding.

Training Magazine

Starting in August 2021, the Utah-based software company eFileCabinet shifted from the traditional five-day work week to a four-day work week with no changes in compensation or any other benefits.

The decision to shift to this new model was made for several reasons and is backed up by research on the success of four-day work weeks in other parts of the world. Trials in Iceland, Japan, and New Zealand, among others, have shown tremendous benefits to their employees’ productivity, happiness, and work-life balance, with virtually no negative ramifications.

“We’re asking our employees to deliver the same outcomes they were producing in a five-day work week in four days by focusing on the work that matters most to benefit our customers,” said CEO Jesse Wood.

The Goal

We wanted to address the stress and burnout our employees were experiencing, especially after returning to the office after several months of remote work. You can expect only so much from an individual before their output declines, and they’re producing less than optimal results, rather than pushing to get as much out of every second as you can, giving them more time to recuperate and focus on their personal lives results in far better output.

That’s what we mean when we talk about work-life balance. We want our teams to be excited to return on Monday after more time to themselves, rather than dread coming back because they didn’t get enough rest or time for their personal lives. Better work-life balance inherently produces better productivity and outcomes.

This improvement in employee productivity would result in improved outcomes for our customers. With all of our teams working at their fullest potential, we’d see improvements in product and service. Increased innovation and creativity would carry over into a better effect, with improvements that would increase our customers’ productivity. Better customer support is key to customer satisfaction and, most importantly, retention.

With a sharp improvement in work-life balance for our teams, we’ll foster a healthier company culture for better employee retention. Having that kind of consistency supports stable and effective relationships with customers.

Finally, an auxiliary benefit to having a four-day work week is a more sustainable business. This means reduced energy consumption from electricity in the office and fuel for commuting. More savings for the company and employees while reducing our carbon footprint.

The Challenges

Making the transition to a four-day work week wasn’t a decision we took lightly, as we knew it would come with its own set of challenges we’d need to overcome before experiencing the benefits we were hoping for.

The glaring question often asked is, how do we maintain productivity, let alone improve it with fewer hours in the week? We had to ensure our teams understood that we still expected the same amount of output from them despite the shorter week. We encourage every individual to make the most out of every minute of their day when at work. We believe this is doable with reduced hours because there’s less time to coast across the five days.

We’ve also emphasized encouraging our teams to work smarter to reduce time squandered on inefficient work practices. Things like avoiding unnecessary meetings, improving communication, and streamlining daily workflow allow us to refocus our priorities toward the work that enhances our product and helps our customers. This is effectively combined with an improved work-life balance. We were willing to believe that our teams would maintain their output and enhance their weekly productivity.

While we were excited to dive into this new way of working, we were still aware that most others are operating over the traditional five-day work week. We decided the best way to remain efficient was to operate the company on a Monday through Thursday schedule, but we knew we couldn’t leave our customers without any support on Fridays. Therefore, our support teams will have specialists with adjusted plans to ensure there’s always someone available on those off-days. This also means that the rest of our teams needed to be especially responsive to customer or sales inquiries, connecting with them as soon as possible.

The Result

After more than three months on a four-day work week, we’ve found the results so far to be astounding. As we had predicted and hoped, productivity among our teams has not dropped and, in many cases, increased thanks to an improved work-life balance and a focus on using the four days to their maximum potential. It’s tough to dawdle when expected to produce the same results with less time. However, the benefit of an additional day off has proven to support this initiative, with it being as much as a reward as a boost in weekly performance.

We’re still very early in this initiative, but all signs point toward it being a net positive for our company’s culture and overall performance. We’re a company that believes in putting our employees’ well-being first, knowing that when they’re healthy in body, mind, and spirit, that’s when they produce their best work. That well-being is reflected in our products and the relationships we foster with our customers.