At Intelligent Futures, we pride ourselves on being innovators who aren’t afraid to push some boundaries if it’s for the greater good. This spirit of innovation is reflected in our recent decision to launch a four-day work week experiment. For the next six months—at least—our team will no longer be working Fridays, with no change to salary, vacation or benefits. We’re treating this as a pilot project, to evaluate how this shift in working hours affects the IF team’s creativity, outcomes and quality of life.
The concept of a four-day week is gaining momentum across many industries. Numerous reports and studies show improvements in productivity and team happiness, as well as decreases in carbon footprint, absenteeism, fatigue and turnover. As an organization, Intelligent Futures is equally committed to leading-edge work and the well-being of our team. We see the four-day work week as an opportunity to achieve both.
Just 100 years ago, society moved from working six days a week to five days and until recently, this has gone largely unexamined. The COVID pandemic has forced a revisiting of many aspects of our lives, including the world of work. Our team is always striving to be intentional about everything we do, and ‘doing things because they’ve always been done that way’ is something we work hard to avoid.
“I think the first thing is to recognize that it's not about doing five days in four days. You're trying to think about different ways of working that allow you to work more efficiently, so you don't need the fifth day."
- TASH WALKER, THE MIX
The four-day week aligns with the core values that we use to guide all kinds of decisions at IF:
Reducing the number of hours we work and committing to meeting the same high standard that we are known for is no small challenge, but we are taking the proper steps to ensure that we can maintain our high-quality work.
If we want to bring our best, most creative selves to the complex challenges we’re working on, our team needs to be rested and balanced. Less fatigue and more productivity will set the stage for the team to create a more positive impact in the communities we support.
This decision required a great deal of analysis and discussion, both with our team members and our clients. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to date, but we remain curious about how we can make this work for the IF team and simultaneously maintain and even improve our performance. That’s why we’ve established a wide range of metrics to measure how well this approach is working for both the team and those we work with.
Reducing and reorganizing the number of work hours will reinforce extraordinary collaboration as a core of our practice. Both internally and externally, we will be faced with the task of finding the best ways to collaborate to achieve equity, sustainability, and prosperity—in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.
For this trial, IF is embracing a 100/80/100 model, which means:
For our clients, that last point is the most crucial. We are committed to delivering projects to the same high standard we have achieved since Intelligent Futures began its work 15 years ago. Quality, productivity, collaboration, thoughtfulness and innovation won’t suffer. We just won’t be available on Fridays.
This means the entire Intelligent Futures team must find ways to be more productive. We have restructured our days and weeks to have focused blocks of time that are free of meetings and emails to make the most of times that can best be spent in a creative mindset. We have looked at ways to cut unnecessary emails and meetings and will be continuously working to improve our systems to maximize our productivity and impact.
This is a six-month trial for our team. During this time, we will measure key business, project and team metrics to ensure that our high standard does not slip and that the team is thriving. We’d love to hear your thoughts as we embark on this new journey. Stay tuned!
For those interested in learning more, here are the two resources we found most helpful as we explored our own 4 day work week approach.