4-Day Work Week: What We Learned About Summer Hours

by Nathan Miller

Oct 20, 2023

Posted in Culture

VP of Brand Strategy, Nathan Miller, is seated on a dark blue velvet couch, wearing all black clothes, smiling at the camera with his arms resting on his legs with his hands together.

Personalizing the Remote Marketing Agency Experience

We really are trying to do things differently here at Formada. I know that might sound kinda corny, but we’re sincere in our aim to build something that’s special.   

No, we’re not trying to “change the world,” but we are trying to change our worlds. We want our team and our clients and our partners to be better off because of their relationship with Formada. 

  • And the only way that we do that is by delivering incredible results for our clients 
  • And the only way we do that is by offering innovative, effective products and services
  • And the only way we do that is by having talented people drive the business forward

But it’s not just having talented people. It’s also about bringing those people into a healthy culture and consistently providing them ways to learn and grow professionally — providing them the tools, trust, transparency, and autonomy that allows people to do their best work. 

It also means creating as many opportunities as possible to get together in person, collaborate, and build a sense of community beyond Slack and Google Meet. 

Because, personally speaking, Formada doesn’t feel like a remote team. We feel like A TEAM. We operate and deliver like a team.

So, earlier this year, when Meg and Garrett started kicking around the idea of Formada transitioning to Summer Hours across the months of June, July, and August, they knew that it posed potential risks, but they also knew that if any team could adapt to a 4-day work week, it was this one. 

What We Actually Mean When We Say Summer Hours

Maybe I should back up a bit. It’s important to address the “Why” behind Formada’s Summer Hours. I know from the discussions that I’ve had with Meg and Garrett on the subject, that the driving force behind it was based on gratitude. 

The team works incredibly hard, they’re unbelievably talented, and they consistently achieve great results. 

Knowing how important work-life balance is while also knowing how busy the summer months become for people, why wouldn’t we want to acknowledge the many contributions the team has made to our success by implementing summer hours?

Study after study has shown that a 4-day work week increases employee engagement while having no negative impact on productivity, so it felt like the right move for the moment. 

But it was one thing to decide that we were transitioning to Summer Hours. Actually doing it was an altogether different challenge. 

In order for us to make it work, we had to be completely dialed in. Our processes had to be airtight. Our communication and responsiveness had to be impeccable. 

And while we already thought we were doing pretty well in those areas, we knew that this would test the limits of our systems, not to mention our capabilities as a team. 

And we weren’t trying to cut corners in terms of what we meant by 4-day work week, either. 

  • Summer Hours did not mean four ten-hour days
  • Fridays were strictly to be used for personal time, the same as Saturdays and Sundays
  • None of our clients should feel constrained by this change in our work schedule — our output as an organization had to stay the same

The team was excited. We asked and answered every question possible. We assured our clients that they would receive the same level of service they always had. And then we went for it.

Do 4-Day Work Weeks Actually Work?

In order to answer this question accurately, we sent our team an anonymous survey to get their candid feedback on what those 12 weeks were actually like for them. 

Each section of the survey featured a statement, with the option to respond with Strongly Agree, Agree, Agree Slightly, Neutral, Disagree Slightly, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. 

Here is what they had to say. 

“Summer Hours Helped Me Focus My Time and Prioritize Tasks” 

80% Strongly Agreed. 20% Agreed.

The team agreed that summer hours helped them focus and prioritize their tasks.

We also asked them to explain what types of changes this made in their work:

  • I stopped second guessing myself
  • I focused more on how I prioritized and executed my tasks
  • I delegated more
  • I was more picky about which meetings I attended
  • I stopped procrastinating as much
  • I was more intentional with my time
  • I felt like my work time was much more focused

“Summer Hours Alleviated Stress”

60% Strongly Agreed. 40% Agreed. 

The team generally agreed that summer hours helped alleviate some stress. Most of the difference between the “Strongly Agree” and “Agree” groups will be clarified in the next few questions.

Some related responses about how summer hours impacted their mental health:

  • It helped my mental health a ton
  • I took more time to rest
  • I received a major boost to my mental and physical health

Some team members found it so beneficial that they recommended that we consider it for the winter.

“Summer Hours Increased My Daily Workload”

40% Agreed. 20% Agreed Slightly. 40% Disagreed. 

“The Increased Daily Workload Was Still Manageable During Work Hours”

20% Strongly Agreed. 60% Agreed. 20% Agreed Slightly. 

These questions had the most significant spread in responses. 60% agreed or slightly agreed that it increased their workload. It’s important to note here that no one responded that they strongly agree that it increased their work. The 4-day work week clearly increased the majority of the team’s day-to-day work.

However, our follow-up question shows that 100% of respondents agreed their workload was still manageable. 

Some of the feedback about their workload included:

  • My work-life balance improved a lot
  • Contractor coordination and performance forced some team members to pick up extra work on Fridays
  • When team members chose to work on a project on Fridays, they found it simpler without any interruptions

“Do You Think We Should Do Summer Hours Again Next Year?”

100% Strongly Agree

The team overwhelmingly agreed that we should do summer hours next year.

Some of their responses about what they did with this extra time include:

  • I had the freedom take care of things without disruption
  • I felt like I didn’t have to waste my weekend
  • I could take care of errands and personal needs
  • Travel and spending time with friends and family became much easier
  • Extra time every week made a huge impact on my life
  • I spent more time on my hobbies and projects
  • I was able to do more volunteer work
  • I am so grateful for the extra time
  • Summer hours were brought up multiple times in mid-year performance reviews as a positive experience

Operational Analysis

Here are some notable takeaways that we saw from business operations after our summer hours experiment:

  • No clients complained or voiced concern
  • We received encouragement from some clients about it
  • There was no marked decrease in tasks completed during this time period 
  • We had to coordinate less OOO coverage with the office being closed on Fridays
  • Some department process projects were postponed to prioritize client work

Should Businesses Implement 4-Day Work Weeks?

It’s subjective. For an organization like ours, dipping our toe in the water via a summer hours experiment proved to us that we can maintain our standards of operational efficiency, client delivery, and quality of work in a compressed time period. 

It meant that we needed to be more considerate about people’s time when it came to meetings. It meant that our level of accountability — to ourselves and to one another — had to increase in order to meet the moment. Thankfully, our team did all of those things and more.

Personally, I’m grateful that we’re an organization that is willing to try new things, experiment with how we can do better work and experiment with how we create better environments for doing that work.

By focusing on creating actual work-life balance for the team, we’re also creating a less transactional relationship with our work. I think that ultimately creates better work. A deeper sense of pride in what we do. And, of course, better results for our clients. Everybody wins.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Summer Hours experiment, or our aim to deliver a more premier level of marketing services, then contact us! We’d love to chat with you.


Get in touch with the Formada Team