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What's happening with shorter workweeks in your country and/or company?

SGD Atlassian Team Oct 07, 2021

Shorter workweeks, and 4-day weeks in particular, are quite the hot topic lately! There's the much-publicized trial in Iceland, a push from political parties in Scotland and Spain, and of course, a few companies are testing the waters on their own. (Atlassian is not one of them, but we're finding other ways to give people more time to recharge.)

I suspect there's more happening in this space than is being reported on, however. And surely I'm not the only person who is curious about this! If you have information to contribute, please share it here! 

6 comments

What we know for sure, especially in the technology sector, is that you don't need an office to do your job. It may be beneficial to your mental wellbeing to be around people, but we arguably don't need to. The last 18 months have proved that.

With signs that things are starting to return to normal after the pandemic, employees and companies are starting to ask what life will be like. Many employees have shown that working from home can maintain (and perhaps increase) their productivity. There's no more 2-3 hour commute each day. There's more time at home with family or socialize, or to work longer hoiurs each day.

If a company isn't thinking of being more flexible with the hours their employees work, I see a greater footfall towards the door. Sure there are challenges with a shorter working week. How do you (or should you) monitor when folk are online? How is leave accounted for if someone needs a day off, but works a 10 hour day to complete their 40 hour working week in four days?

An employer has an obligation to ensure their employees are treated well, and have what they need to be productive. Whether this is through benefits, wellness days, a four day week, or something else is down to them. However, with a workforce that is increasingly looking at what is important to them, it will be the employers that allow their employees a degree of flexibility that will win out. 

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SGD Atlassian Team Oct 07, 2021

Yeah, the details get thorny real fast. A friend who works as an eng manager at a small software firm told me they recently went to 4-day weeks, with everyone off on Fridays. But then it's like, how does that affect our sprint cadence? What about weeks where there's a national holiday on Monday? Do you still try to cram a week's worth of work into 3 days? How do you balance the needs of employees and clients in a case like that? 

I'm curious to hear how companies like Buffer and Kickstarter manage this as they conduct their 4-day trials. 

Like Colum McAndrew likes this

A lot depends on whether folk work their contracted hours (say 40 hours) in 4 x 10 hour days, or whether their hours are reduced pro-rata.

The key thing is to remember that reduced hours isn't for everyone. Working 10 hour days isn't always great for folk with young families for example. 

Agreed, 10 hour days might be doable for some professions, but personally I wouldn't want my development teams programming for longer each day than they currently do!

Especially for creative work like software development, it seems like every additional hour of work past about 6-8 hours in a single day has majorly diminishing marginal returns. 

Hi @Monica Morris 

Have you asked your team what they want? Obviously I don't know your specific firm, but you may find this is something they'd like to try. It may not be right for your team/company, but if you don't know what your employees want, you may find out you're left behind. 

Lots of ifs and maybes I admit, and a move not to be taken likely. All the best.

Any particular reason why Atlassian is not testing out a 4-day workweek?

I work for a small global firm based in the US and there's been no talk of reducing the workweek or working hours. I'd jump on a shorter workweek if given the chance though!

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SGD Atlassian Team Oct 07, 2021

I can't speak for the company in any official capacity. But here's my take.  

I don’t anticipate Atlassian will pick up the four-day workweek torch any time soon. Right now we’re figuring out how to operate as an 8,000+ person, globally distributed, remote-first company. It’s a massive transition and I expect we’ll keep a laser focus on that before looking at shorter workweeks – if we ever look at them at all. 

That said, a lot of teams and even whole departments (including marketing, where I sit) are scheduling additional days off. E.g., marketing is taking Dec 24 - Jan 3 off this year. 

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For sure larger enterprise customers will take longer to turn their super tankers around.

I don't think it's a good thing to take 2 days vacation.

Kishan Sharma Community Leader Oct 15, 2021

Personally, I would love to have shorter work weeks, but i know this is going to take very long time to implement across the country unless govt pushes it as a mandate to all the companies.

Like Isaac Nelson likes this

In the UK I can't see it being implemented by our Government anytime soon, and that's not a criticism of them. Companies, departments, and teams have already started to experiment with various approaches, so if it succeeds, so will the calls from employees to join in. Ground up rather than bottom down.

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