Our experiment to make the 4-day work week a reality

Fernando Polo

8 July 2021

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Some days ago, our Alliance team decided to run a three month test at Good Rebels starting in July. This trial consists of implementing a 4-day week scheme with very specific goals in mind: working smarter, being better rested, happier and more productive so that we achieve the same output in less days. All while improving the quality of the work we do for our clients because of it.

We are a digital marketing consultancy, working across Europe and Latin America, and support an average of 100 active projects with a vast array of clients. Made up of  130 Rebels, (well on our way to 200) all proud of being quite a human-centric, self-managed company with a very special culture based on radical transparency and the idea of love in the workplace – an intrinsic part of our latin magic.

Our Human-Centred framework, comprising three areas: the citizen, the customer and the coworker journeys will allow me to structure the reasons why we want to bring the idea of a 4-day work week to life.

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The citizen journey: learning and sharing

My daughters are always shocked to know that their grandfather worked six days a week and their mother went to school on Saturday mornings (in East Germany). It takes decades to achieve societal change and a few martinis to forget old times. The time has come for a new change. 

The promise of an increase in world productivity rings true this time. Covid has accelerated the advent of generalised remote work and considerably increased the sheer output that knowledge-workers are able to produce. Artificial Intelligence, robotics and digital technologies at large seem to be paving the path to a 4-day work week and many countries are announcing plans to bring tests into life.

At Good Rebels, we’ve always felt that we can contribute to the future of work, by showing evidence that companies can be organised in a more humane way, where bureaucracy can be eradicated and individual autonomy granted in exchange for responsibility. On top of that, our drive to share knowledge is one of the ways we give back and help other professionals progress.

If we don’t dare to try this, who will? We want to humbly contribute and prove that a 4-day work week is feasible and, most of all, beneficial to welfare (including gender equality at work).

On the other hand, we also feel that society needs more of our awesome Rebels. Many of us will take advantage of this 5th day to get involved in social work, start new ventures, keep on learning, help launch other projects and be more in contact with our family and friends.

Our client journey: we’re here for them

We’re not crazy. We go above and beyond for our clients. We assume this experiment will pose a myriad of challenges and perhaps create some uncertainty in the short term. Some of our clients (and non clients) will be skeptical (though the initial reactions have been amazing). I hope they’ll trust us. 

We’ll make good use of our flexibility to guarantee that we serve our clients better and honour our SLAs. Most of our projects are based on our output, not on the days we work. When required, shifts will be established to extend coverage, all while keeping a goal in mind: we want all Rebels to approach Fridays as we do the traditional Saturday-Sunday weekend. We are always there for fires.

We are committed to boost delivery excellence and productivity, helping our clients to achieve their business goals by attracting and retaining the best talent. Happier, more loyal and well rested coworkers will do the trick. All for the good of our loyal clients.

The coworker journey: harmony and relevance

Harmony and relevance is our mantra, a difficult but virtuous balance. We are ambitious with our goals, but not willing to sacrifice everything to achieve them. These have been intense weeks with a hot internal debate. Many Rebels feel anxious about how to serve our clients Monday to Thursday, while maintaining the quality of our work, keeping up with our culture and our rituals (what will happen to our RebelFridays?). 

Ideas, execution, agility is what we are paid for. Having more time to rest, improving our mental health and working on more diverse activities will help our brain make the right synapses and increase the quality of our output.

We don’t have all the answers and we don’t want to take the fun out of our work. This is about working smarter, rethinking how we collaborate, maximising asynchronous, hybrid (face to face and remote) work, shortening our meetings, communicating better and getting rid of unproductive habits. Japanese trials in 2019 showed an increase of 40% in productivity and other research affirmed allied results. But hey, who’s to say this is definite, it might not work for us. That’s why we’re running a 3 month experiment, committed to making it work and being able to extend it until it becomes a whole new reality. 

Long live the Rebellion… And thank god it’s Thursday!