Flying the flag for work-life balance: why we’ve opted for a 4-day week.

Resource Type: News | Published: 19th Jul 2021 | By Team Sharktower

Whatever you think about ‘Freedom Monday’, for most office-based workers, freedom is still usually reserved for the weekends.

Here, Sharktower’s Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer Lynsey Taylor explains why she and fellow Co-founder Craig Mackay made the decision to offer Team Sharktower more freedom than the norm.

 

“With much of the UK now relaxing restrictions further, there’s been a lot of speculation about when workplaces might return to ‘normality’.

For us, having launched Sharktower to market at the end of March 2020 (yes, just one week before the very first lockdown!), we never really known ‘normality’ as a business. And having given it a lot of consideration, we don’t particularly want to.

Our product is designed to challenge traditional thinking about project delivery, so we’re naturally more at home when we stay off the beaten path.

Ever since the pandemic hit, we’ve understood and been flexible about how the team worked – whether that meant finishing up early to spend time with kids, or even just getting to the supermarket during quieter hours. Life changed, and that meant work sometimes had to change too.”

Why we’re moving to a 4-day week

First of all, it’s important to say that our 4-day week is optional. (You don’t build an open, progressive culture by imposing any regime – even if it feels new and different.)

Back at the start of March this year, we starting trialling ‘face-free Fridays’ (i.e. no meetings), and quickly noticed that everyone was getting through far more on those days than ever before (using Sharktower to manage and measure progress helped with that 😉).

After a few weeks, we carried out our anonymous ‘Surfwatch’ survey, and the whole team voted to keep face-free Fridays indefinitely.

And that got us wondering… would moving to a 4-day week create a better work-life balance for everyone?

Thankfully when you have a small, engaged team, you don’t have to just wonder – you can ask. So we did. This time there was no open-forum discussion: everyone was contacted directly and confidentially, and we made it clear there was no obligation. And yet everyone individually decided to opt for the new working hours.

 

“When Sharktower gave us the choice of a 4-day week I jumped at the opportunity. My productivity has gone up and my mental health has definitively improved. And my Thursday afternoons are FAR more productive than my Friday afternoons ever were.”

– Neil Greenhorn, Sharktower Customer Success Lead

 

 

(A small caveat here: our co-founders still work Monday to Friday, but that’s a choice too. It means Board-level meetings can take place on a day when there are no other distractions, and strategic planning doesn’t disrupt the day-to-day running of things.)

We appreciate that making your own rules may be easier for small companies like ours, but if there’s ever been a time for every organisation to challenge the status quo, it’s now. We view this move to a 4-day week as an evolution, and it may just be the beginning of how we do things differently. What’s certain is that – whatever we do next – we’ll do it through discussion and consultation of our people.”