Following the conclusion of our six month 4-Day Week trial, our next two Notes will explore the benefits, challenges and lessons that we have experienced both personally and organisationally.
This time, we hear from Programme Manager Jack Webb and Finance and Operations Manager Magie Dang
Diving into the world of a 4-day Week has been a game-changer for me, paving the way for a more harmonious and healthy work-life balance. Fridays off have become my sanctuary, providing a dedicated space to reflect on the week’s highs and lows, something we all know is essential in the emotionally charged landscape of the social sector.
The beauty of my job lies in its rewards and challenges, and the 4-Day Week allows me to savour these moments without taking my privileged position for granted. With a 3-day weekend, I tackle life admin, from chores to financial management, all while connecting with friends and family. It’s the secret sauce to maintaining a resilient support system.
London, with its abundance of opportunities, can sometimes feel like a lonely city. That’s why the time spent with loved ones is a treasure to me. Just last Friday, I celebrated my Mum’s birthday, indulging in a day of theatre and pizza, a perfect escape from the demands of work. We used that time to lean on each other, navigating the trials and tribulations life threw our way in the past couple of months (basically a load of gossiping over a glass of prosecco!).
The realisation of how valuable time is has spurred me to explore ways to give back to my new community, having recently moved to nearby Newham. Now, armed with the freedom of a Friday, I’m excited about the prospect of contributing my time to local initiatives, something which I have always wanted to commit to.
Six months into this journey, I find myself at a crossroads, seeking ways to optimise my time and skills. Embracing a more productive mindset has its challenges, especially when the guilt of downtime creeps in. It’s a delicate balance—managing time effectively requires strategic thinking about meetings and task urgency.
For those contemplating a shift to a 4-Day Week, rallying the support of the entire team is crucial. The key is to align the change with both productivity and well-being, setting the stage for a revitalised start every Monday (not dreading work on a Monday is a tangible benefit from a 4-Day Week). Co-designing this transition as a team not only prevents stress but also lays the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling workweek.
Magie: A new mum back to work
It’s not easy having to adjust being home 24/7 with a child, to suddenly going back to work and having a different schedule. I’m used to staying at home and spending time with my young one and being able to catch all those special first moments. You do develop this dependency on seeing your child everyday and loving every bit even with the tantrums but you do need to give time for your child to develop a level of independence. Since returning to work, I’m now spending 8-10 hours (including travelling) away from them which means by the time I’m home it’s dinner, bath and off to bed for the little one. So really I’ve spent about 3-4 hours with them which can be a big change to have adapt to.
Thankfully I do have Fridays where I get to catch up with them while my partner is at work, so spending that extra day with them makes me feel a little bit less guilty for leaving them so soon. This extra day also allows me to plan out a more thoughtful weekend for family and social time and really decompress for work before Monday comes back around. I’ve also found that I’m more motivated to approaching Mondays and certainly more organised to tackle the week ahead of me.
Personally for me, organisation and communication is key to adapting to a 4-Day Week. The reason for that is because your schedule for work does become more condensed so communicating that to others outside of your organisation and planning meetings can become a challenge.
My advice for other organisations wanting to trial a 4-Day Week would be to understand that there are many benefits to transitioning to a short work week such as reduced levels of stress and improvement in motivation levels at work but this also comes with a developed understanding and trust for your team to take the responsibility of being independent and planning their time accordingly.
Additionally, knowing when to compromise their time if they feel like they are falling behind on work or even taking extraordinary meetings will help the team prepare for a smoother week. Ultimately I feel this does develop a stronger bond within the team as we communicate any challenges and share a goal of making each week coming a more smoother and fulfilling week.