A joint post from Associate Lawyers Kali Larsen, Kate Elperin, and Manbeen Saini.
As of February 1, 2022, Gosal & Company moved from a 5-day work week to a 4-day work week.
Unsurprisingly, our staff is excited for this change. A 4-day work week generally allows for better work-life balance which can be helpful for combating employee burnout. A study out of Iceland noted that “many workers expressed that after starting to work fewer hours they felt better, more energized, and less stressed”.
But the 4-day work week does not only benefit employees. The same study out of Iceland examined whether services to clients and productivity were impacted and the evidence showed that “productivity can, in many instances, be increased through working time reduction”. In addition, clients will have the advantage of interacting with a staff that is less stressed and happier overall.
This will also allow our legal team to have more flexibility. Our office recognizes that the work needs to get done and that means there may be times when members of our legal team are working on Fridays, whether in the office or from home. With this move to a 4-day work week though, our legal team will have more flexibility at slower times of the year when a full five days in the office may not be as necessary.
A recent survey conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting Research found that out of 1,000 people surveyed, 53% reported that they were experiencing burnout and 83% of U.S. workers believed a 4-day work week would ease it. Companies who tried 4-day work weeks reported better flexibility and thus happier employees when moving from five eight-hour days to four.
In 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, announced a 27% decrease in work stress levels, a 20% gain in employee productivity, and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance after a trial of paying people their regular salary for working four days. Data was collected by two New Zealand academics before and after the trial period. Before the trial, just over half of staff (54%) felt they could balance their work and home commitments, while after the trial this number jumped to 78%. The data showed that staff stress levels decreased across the board, while stimulation, commitment, and a sense of empowerment at work all improved significantly, with overall life satisfaction increasing by five percentage points. Following the success of the trial, the company made the policy permanent.
Big companies like Microsoft, in their Japanese office, also trialed a 4-day work week with no loss of pay and saw a 40% increase in productivity. Here’s what happened with the Microsoft work week experiment:
- overall employee productivity boost of 40%;
- electricity costs fell by 23%;
- 60% fewer pages were printed; and
- the standard duration for a meeting was slashed from 60 minutes to 30 minutes.
The Microsoft trial roughly doubled Perpetual Guardian’s productivity gain. In 2020, Unilever, New Zealand also stepped forward with plans for a 4-day work week. It placed the 81 employees based in the country into a year-long 32-hour work week trial.
Moving from 5 to 4 days in the office per week also creates space for our staff to spend quality time with loved ones, give back to the community, and take on creative and healthy projects.
One of our lawyers is most excited about being with her daughter more on the weekend and finally being able to see her excitement as she picks her up from school. As a parent, she is also grateful for the much-needed time to get errands done and catch up on some precious sleep and self-care.
Other staff also plan to volunteer with access-to-justice organizations such as Access Pro Bono, or by doing more hands-on work in the community. Projects of interest include the Residential Tenancy Program; the Lawyer Referral Service; and volunteer dog walking.
As well, our lawyers are looking forward to hobbies including:
- resuming swing dancing lessons (COVID-19 permitting);
- getting more reading done;
- taking guitar and watercolor painting lessons; and
- hiking and camping, with warmer weather on the way.
We anticipate that these forms of enrichment will ultimately lead to happier, healthier, and more well-rounded staff, which will benefit the service that we provide to our clients. Our families and friends also stand to benefit, as well as the community.