In 2015, social media management company Buffer got rid of its office, leading the industry in terms of workplace trends.
In addition to its remote 84-person team and salary transparency, Buffer began testing out 4-day work weeks in May 2020 in an effort to provide their employees with some stress relief during the onset of the pandemic.
What started as an experiment has now become a permanent policy, with an internal survey showing that 91% of employees expressed feeling happier with the shorter work week.
However, this transition came with its own set of complications, and Buffer laid out exactly which challenges it faced when adopting a four-day work week.
Hailley Griffis, head of public relations at Buffer, said that finding time for employees to complete their work was one of the biggest obstacles. The company kicked off its experiment by allowing teams to complete the same amount of work within a shorter amount of time, but this proved to be unsustainable.
“The short-term instinct is to do things the way they were in four days and power through,” said Griffis. “But in the long-term you have to question: How should we do things differently?”
To optimize the 32-hour work weeks, Buffer cut down on meetings, adopted asynchronous communication tools, and adapted its expectations for deadlines.
Another issue the company ran into was knowing which days to take off. Buffer teams were initially given a choice to make their schedule, but the disorganization of this process soon made its presence known.
That led the company to provide Fridays off for the whole company, with the exception of the customer service department that is needed seven days a week. These employees still receive shorter work weeks, but operate on a rotating schedule.
One of the most significant issues that many distributed teams have run into is the ability to engage. For Buffer, the reduction of meetings also hindered overall employee engagement. To combat this, Griffis says the firm has planned more virtual social events to deepen bonds among the workforce.