Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Four Day Workweek Works. Here’s Why.

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If you would have told me prior to 2020 that CostumeBox would successfully adopt a fully remote, four day workweek for our entire team, I would have had a good laugh at the idea. However, that is exactly what we’re doing now with great success, and we are not alone. In 2022 the transition into a four day workweek has started to build momentum. In fact, various companies across Australia and New Zealand commenced a four-day workweek trial for a six-month pilot last month.

I co-founded CostumeBox with Roma Burke in 2007. CostumeBox is Australia’s one-stop destination for costumes online, with the largest range of dress-up outfits, accessories, and party supplies. I studied archaeology, and Roma had a successful career in five-star hotel management. Our backgrounds didn’t exactly suggest “online retailers” however, CostumeBox’s retail success has been a testament to our collective love for innovation, customer service, and our passionate and hardworking team.

Nikki Yeaman and Roma Burke founders of CostumeBox
Nikki Yeaman and Roma Burke, co-founders of CostumeBox, adopted a fully remote four day workweek in 2020.

Roma and I adopted the four-day workweek, transitioning to a fully remote setup amidst the pandemic in March 2020. We were literally hours away from signing a five-year lease on new office space when we decided to wait and see how the virus evolved. The staff took their desktop computers home for “a couple of weeks”–and the rest is history. Although it was a big shift for us to make, our business has definitely seen benefits, a key one being that we now employ talent from all over Australia instead of being limited geographically due to our office being in Sydney.

CostumeBox is living proof that businesses can still operate at peak performance while encouraging flexibility and a healthy work-life balance for their staff.

3 Benefits of the Four Day Workweek

How a fully remote four day work week has helped CostumeBox:

1. Increased morale and flexibility

Research shows that 75% of employees who work a four day workweek are not only happier but also less stressed. This is something that we have keenly observed over the past two years. We conduct our meetings on Zoom, but we also speak with each staff member individually to check in on how they are feeling and how we can make the working-from-home experience better for them. Happier employees increase morale, something that any entrepreneur or business leader knows is beneficial for their team.

Taking advantage of remote working to coincide with our four-day work week has ultimately given our staff more flexibility. As there is no longer added travel time, the overall hours each day are no longer than when we worked in an office environment, yet it is only 1.5 hours less than a standard work week. Our staff loves this extra day which they use to relax, enjoy their hobbies, as well as have more time to connect with their family and friends. We are confident that this flexibility will result in great staff retention, and for new hires, it is definitely appealing to join the business.

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2. Better workflow and cohesion

At CostumeBox, we all work Mondays to Thursdays to optimize workflow and cohesion. Always being available these 4 days makes scheduling meetings and work between the team easier. We increased each workday by one extra hour, so our staff works a 9-hour day, 4 days a week, and they are still paid a full-time salary. As a 24/7 online retailer, certain functions such as our warehouse and customer service must operate 5 days a week, so we use a roster system that rotates days off for those teams between Thursday and Friday.

A new working environment for us meant revaluating what is absolutely essential in day-to-day operations. One way we became more efficient across our four-day week is by cutting down on internal meetings. It is important to take a step back and ask yourself–does everyone need to be in this meeting? How long does this meeting need to be? Could this be an email instead? Better use of time has led to increased productivity within our business.

3. A more active and balanced staff

If your employees are not prioritizing their health and well-being, how will a business be sustainable? A remote four day workweek offers greater opportunities for employees to remain healthy and balanced, improving their overall well-being and working ability. To combat the lack of physical movement that working from home can create, we encouraged our team to keep moving. Here’s how we do it:

  • 10-minute team yoga sessions over YouTube 2x a week.
  • Standing up for all meetings.
  • Encouraging walking meetings.
  • Recommended getting a dog (They are a good reason to get out of the house and great company).

Maybe it is time to consider changing your working environment from a five-day office week to a four day remote work week. It is not all smooth sailing, and it’s important to put a clear strategy in place to ensure the most successful outcome. As the leader of your business, use your own overarching knowledge and experience to adjust as necessary based on real-time feedback and experience after a trial.

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