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4-day work week in review: What one company has learnt

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
4 Day Work Week In Review What One Company Has Learned

A hot topic in the business world in 2023 was the idea of a four-day work week. With multiple trials and studies conducted, the common consensus was that productivity either remained the same or, in some cases, improved. As the dust settled, however, talks of this idea went quiet.

Now, midway through 2024, one organisation has detailed its experience in implementing a condensed week, with a 12-month trial coming to an end.

EES Shipping introduced a four-day work week for eligible staff last May. The company followed the 100-80-100 model, a popular four-day work week strategy in which workers receive 100 per cent of pay, for 80 per cent time at work, while maintaining 100 per cent productivity.


EES Shipping managing director Brian Hack noted that it was a great success, as absenteeism is down and productivity has remained: “Almost every operational metric is trending higher than last year, and the total number of sick days taken is down, which highlights that business productivity hasn’t been negatively impacted.”

“We’re meeting relevant business targets, and clients are still receiving the same high-level service and communication, which to us was always going to be part of the measurement of success.”

Some additional positives to come from this initiative is the improvement of employee wellbeing, and the attraction and retention of employees.

“When we first started seriously considering the idea, we were anecdotally hearing the impact of burnout on workers throughout the industry, and we didn’t want that for our staff,” Hack said.

“Added to that, the labour market has been so tight for such a long time, we wanted a way to continue to attract and retain staff that wasn’t simply about more money.”

“It’s a cliché, but we know that if staff are happy in their work and personal lives, then that flows through to the business also.”

There are challenges that must be ironed out in the process, however. For instance, variables need to be considered such as the manning of worksites in a 24-hour environment.

Hack said: “We worked out pretty quickly that it couldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to how the days off worked, particularly in an industry such as ours that effectively operates 24/7.”

“Instead, we’ve now moved to let individual departments decide what works best for them, based on workloads and what happens day-to-day. We’ve also got a greater appreciation for time, now that we effectively have less of it, and that’s forced us as a team to think about how we spend our time. Meetings are shorter and more efficient, for example, because they have to be.”

For organisations thinking about implementing a condensed week, there are some considerations that Hack said will help things flow smoothly:

  • Be flexible.
  • Start small.
  • Be open to new ideas.
  • Look for business efficiencies.

In regards to starting small, it may be beneficial for a company to ease into things. EES Shipping started with offering staff one extra day off a month to a nine-day fortnight and then dropping to four days a week.

“Being able to use that extra day off to get into the gym a bit more, take the kids to school – it’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it makes such a difference to my life overall. I want the team to see that these things are important, too; life is so much more than work,” Hack said.

“Yes, it’s been a bit tricky to implement a four-day week, but that’s because we’re trying something new, and we had nothing to base it on. Hopefully, we’re learning lessons that will make it easier for the next company to implement, and the one after that, and then one day, this won’t be unusual at all.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.