Colleen McLintock

At Omnicor, innovation is our middle name. When the four-day work week began trending, our OD team’s interest was piqued. It promised work-life balance, improved productivity, and overall enhanced well-being. With a six-month trial in mind, we rolled up our sleeves to embark on this new venture. But little did we expect, we’d pause our trial just three weeks in.

The Context:

Our spirited OD team at Omnicor thrives in the Organisational Development (OD) and Leadership space. Remote work, flexibility, and individuality are cornerstones of our work ethos. We believe in charting unexplored territories, and the four-day workweek seemed like the next big thing for us. After all, who wouldn’t appreciate an extra day off?

The Planning:

Diving deep, we set the stage. We conducted an engagement survey, analysed sick leave from the past six months, and scrutinised our sales and revenue numbers. Every team member penned down their anticipations and concerns. We meticulously reformed our team charter to mirror the rules and expectations of the new schedule.

The new arrangement? Four days of work, each stretching to 10 hours, starting at 8 AM, and wrapping up at 6 PM, with an hour carved out for lunch. The tantalising prospect was the fifth day – entirely off!

The Upsides:

  • A Day Off: This meant the world to us. From errands to self-care, having an entire day free was liberating.
  • Productive Endings: The last two hours became a sanctuary for wrapping up tasks, planning, and undisturbed work.
  • Unified Meetings: We moved all our team meetings to Tuesday. This consolidation meant the rest of the week was free for deep work.

The Challenges:

  • Role Dependency: We quickly realised a four-day workweek isn’t universal. Some roles, particularly those interfacing with clients, faced backlogs and felt overwhelmed.
  • Tumultuous Tuesdays: Cramming meetings into one day was taxing. Our Tuesdays turned into marathon days, draining energy and enthusiasm.
  • The Disconnection: The team felt disjointed, missing out on the organic camaraderie, spontaneous brainstorming, and collective problem-solving we were accustomed to.

Considering these challenges and acknowledging our premature disorientation, we decided to press pause.

The Reflection:

The trial might have been short-lived, but the insights were invaluable. It taught us that while innovative approaches can be enticing, they might not always fit every mould. What’s important is the willingness to adapt, learn, and evolve.

Will we revisit the four-day workweek? Perhaps, but with tweaks and alterations grounded in our first-hand experiences. We would need to take the leap and make it a 32-hour, 4-day work week; this has big implications in an environment where we implement multiple-complex projects across Coaching, 360’s, Culture surveys and other OD interventions.

In a nutshell, Omnicor’s OD team’s experiment with the four-day workweek was a mix of highs and lows. It’s a testament to our spirit of experimentation and keeping it agile. After all, every challenge is an opportunity in disguise.

Photo by Alex Lion on Unsplash