On Apr 03, 1919 Spain became the first country in the world to restrict the workday to a maximum of eight hours on all types of work. Spain is challenging the status quo again by implementing a pilot project beginning this September where hundreds of companies will reduce their work week to 32 hours while keeping salaries the same. The Spanish government will use part of their EU Corona-virus Recovery Fund to compensate participating companies for any higher costs incurred by the change. Their objective is to prioritize the people that make up the organization.

At Zpryme our mission is to #challengethestatusquo, specifically in energy, but we promote and encourage our people to approach everything they do through this lens. Pre-pandemic, the status quo for most organizations was to have employees leave their homes and go to an office to work. Our team has had the option to #wfh since we were founded in 2010, at which point we did not even have an office.

With concerns around burnout, mental health, and work-life integration surmounting due to the challenges brought on by 2020, our CEO, Jason Rodriguez, once again took progressive action to challenge the status quo by shifting away from the Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 work week and allowing employees to have a 3 day weekend.

Our objective in transitioning to a 4 day work week was to provide support for our people and enable them to more easily juggle work, family, and life-related issues during an “unprecedented time of uncertainty.” We fully accepted the uncertainty of life and the certainty of unexpected crises.

After an 8 week 4 day work week trial during which we measured two metrics

  • meeting client expectations;
  • maintaining employee engagement and high levels of performance.

We found that

  • Performance and productivity was not only maintained, but increased.
  • Creativity shot through the roof and our offerings expanded.
  • Our people were happier and more engaged
  • Trust and autonomy increased

Here are some comments from our team members on the benefits they’ve gained from the transition to a flex schedule –

I like it because it helps me prioritize my time better. I work 100 times better under pressure or when I have a lot of work. 4 days provides pressure to me, but not a stressful amount because I know I always have Friday if I need.

Having a day where I’m not typically getting random assignments allows me to definitively allocate time in that space. and if I don’t then I can spend that time on personal enrichment.

I love the flex schedule. It feels like a must have as a mother of a toddler.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s really nice to have a weekday to take care of errands that would be more time consuming on the weekend and cut into that recharge time. For example, taking care of car issues or something on a Friday morning takes like 1/2 the time that it would than on a Saturday afternoon!

Flexibility translates into productivity, the increase in personal time accountability ultimately places more responsibility in one’s own hands

#1 Running errands to banks and other places that are only open during 9-to-5 business hours!!!

#2 Great for scheduling trips so you can leave Thursday

We have more time to focus on what we need to do to take care of unexpected day-to-day life tasks that arise. Meanwhile, there is always an extra day available for scheduling external meetings necessary for sales.

What is holding companies back from making this shift? It may be uncertainty. It’s different. Different is scary. It may be fear that productivity will go down. But what do we know? We know that a more flexible schedule will benefit people and people make up our organizations. If our people are being supported to find balance, renewal, and rest, then it stands to reason that they will be happier, more creative, have a greater capacity for innovation, and be more productive.

The Earth also stands to benefit. Our fellow energy geeks at Autonomy, over in the UK, conducted a study in May of 2020 on the effects that a 4 day work week would have on energy loads and carbon emissions. They found that carbon emissions stemming from electricity production would be reduced by up to 24%. You can read their report here

So what is preventing your company from taking this bold step towards work/life transformation and arguably climate action?