But as employees have begun centering work-life balance as a priority in their jobs and employers face historic talent shortages, the idea of shorter workweeks has gained traction. Workplace leaders have only recently had the opportunity to test its efficacy in large-scale trials. Last summer, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter tested the four-day workweek
. This past summer, thousands of U.K. workers piloted a four-day workweek and reported positive results
across multiple industry segments.
DNSFilter, a cybersecurity company, piloted a four-day workweek in the summer of 2021 and then decided to keep an alternating four-day week as a permanent policy. Employees are permitted to work a 32-hour workweek one week, then a 40-hour week, and the next two groups alternate four-day weeks—thus ensuring five-day coverage every week while still giving the workforce two three-day weekends per month.
WorkSpace Connect interviewed Mandy Cole
, VP of Human Resources (HR), DNSFilter, to learn what prompted the company’s shift to a four-day workweek, what influenced its decision, and how it measured the quantity of employee engagement after migrating to an alternating four-day workweek. Cole also shared the positive effects an alternating four-day workweek has on employee morale and productivity and her advice for businesses considering making this a permanent strategy.
Responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.
What prompted DNSFilter’s shift to an alternating four-day workweek?
DNSFilter shifted to a four-day workweek on rotation back in 2021. A year into the pandemic, our leadership team wanted to explore new ways to support employees. During this time, it was clear a two-day weekend wasn’t enough time to recharge fully, given the “average workday” was informally extended.
The four-day workweek was the perfect solution to help alleviate employee stress and improve work-life balance. With a three-day weekend, we found employees have more time to devote to personal matters and appointments, so they tend to accomplish much more in the four days they are at work.
What started as a pilot program turned into one of DNSFilter’s most popular benefits. Not only did the shift to a four-day workweek greatly improve our employees' work-life balance, stress levels, and satisfaction, but it also subsequently helped with recruitment efforts—proving to be a valuable differentiator.
Was there any research that informed your decision?
We didn’t do too much research. However, [we] relied on word-of-mouth. Many in our leadership team had people in their network that worked at a company offering a four-day workweek, and all had the utmost positive feedback to share. Seeing how well it was working for others, it was an easy decision to at least pilot a four-day workweek at DNSFilter.
Our HR team proposed an alternating four-day workweek to reduce employee stress, improve work/life balance, and increase employee engagement. We knew the risk of burnout existed as we entered the “hyper-growth” phase of our company’s journey, and the team had heard from other tech companies that a four-day workweek was one powerful way to mitigate this risk.
As a tech startup, we embrace new ideas and encourage employees to think of unconventional ways to solve problems, so it was an easy decision for us to run a pilot program to see if this would work.
How did you measure the quantity of employee engagement after the company migrated to a four-day workweek?
It was quickly apparent that employees were happy with the change and wanted to do their part to keep the rotating four-day week. The ask of our staff to make this work was “numbers don’t slip and we don’t miss deadlines,” and that’s exactly how it has played out thus far. DNSFilter implemented a weekly status check-in for our company to ensure we all stay on track.
Another way we can measure the positive engagement of our rotating four-day workweek is by the increased number of employee referrals we’ve received. When we have job openings, our staff is happy to refer people they know because they enjoy working here. We have had many successful hires thanks to the steady stream of referrals.
In addition to employee referrals, we can also attract top talent into the organization because of our proven commitment to work/life balance. We currently have a 94% offer acceptance rate.
When employees love where they work, they create a better product for our customers. It’s a win-win for us when it comes to talent acquisition, employee retention, and happier customers.
How did you anticipate or react to negative changes in employee morale or productivity?
We experienced far more positive changes in productivity and morale than negative. Our employees are more productive with a four-day workweek. That extra day helps employees to rejuvenate, prepping them to be more productive during the workweek and even producing higher quality work. Fridays also tend to be “no meeting” days which allows employees to increase productivity on the Fridays that they do work.
What advice can you give companies looking to make a four-day workweek ‘work’ for their employees?
Do your research and listen to peers already implementing a four-day workweek. There’s a lot of research at the moment on the success of the four-day workweek, and many companies, like DNSFilter, have already proven similar programs can be successful.
Make sure there’s an executive champion. Our chief executive officer (CEO) and chief operating officer (COO) fully embraced the trial and set the tone for the rest of the leadership team to do the same. They led by example, taking their Fridays off just like they wanted their teams to do. Their buy-in and support allowed us to test whether or not this would work at DNSFilter.
When implementing a four-day workweek, make sure you keep in mind what will work best for your company. If your team is on the smaller side and you’re concerned about appropriate coverage, consider rotating four-day workweeks to alleviate some of the staffing challenges that are often associated. That way—employees still get the recharge they need while ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
Keep an eye on your teams to ensure they’re taking their day off. There are times we have to work to stay caught up, but for the most part, the managers should lead their teams in a way that allows them to participate.