In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re excited to share our experience with NinjaCat’s four-day work week, as well as the impressions and insights we’ve gathered after one year. Our hope is that our journey inspires other organizations to consider the benefits and positive effects of an adjusted schedule.
Starting Our Four-Day Work Week Experiment
To improve work-life balance, prevent employee burnout, and achieve better business results, NinjaCat began exploring the feasibility of a four-day work week in late spring of last year.
Research on the four-day work week indicates that the adjusted schedule boosts morale, retains employees, and increases the quality of work. Back in 2019, Microsoft Japan introduced a four day working week and reported a 40% boost in productivity. Research also showed that people were getting more exercise and sleep on a four-day week. For families, the results from a UK study on four-day work weeks were very positive, with the time spent by male workers looking after their children increasing by 27%.
We hypothesized that strategic prioritization, effective communication, and a focused work ethic would enable NinjaCat to maintain high levels of performance and productivity while working one day less every week.
"With a well-structured approach to a four-day work week, we believed we could foster a healthier work environment and ultimately deliver better results," said Paul Deraval, NinjaCat's CEO. “We decided to experiment for a short period of time as a test run, and the results were outstanding.”
We did not dive directly into this adjusted schedule, but inched our way into the experiment starting with half-day Fridays for two months. After the initial test phase showed no adverse effects on our goals or customer service, we officially launched a four-day work week in July of 2022.
We hoped that the four-day work week would significantly impact mental health and wellbeing, encourage employee retention, increase innovation and creativity, and improve customer experiences. We implemented an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework to set goals and priorities, and tracked progress through metrics and feedback loops.
Adjusting to a Four-Day Work Week
Initially, our team was a little apprehensive about managing workloads on a truncated schedule. But after fully adopting a four-day work week, that hesitation quickly turned into excitement.
Along with quarterly employee pulse surveys, we set up a Slack channel to gauge reactions to the new schedule. The positive results were immediately apparent. Team members engaged in passion projects, spent quality time with their children, took trips, relaxed with friends, and reconnected to their lives outside of work. Gratitude was a recurring theme in their posts.
"Implementing a four-day work week has allowed our team to achieve a better work-life balance and spend more time with their families and pursue personal interests, leading to increased happiness and reduced burnout," Deraval noted.
Being a 100% remote company, maintaining a strong work culture has always been a priority at NinjaCat. The four-day work week allowed everyone to share their personal lives with colleagues and foster meaningful connections beyond daily tasks. By creating space for employees to recharge during the week, our staff became more focused on prioritization while on the clock, resulting in a more resilient and hardworking culture.
Evaluating the Four-Day Work Week’s Effectiveness
According to NinjaCat’s CEO, ”We realized a net gain in productivity as measured by our OKRs and other efficiency measures we track. Our employees were able to accomplish the same amount of work, if not more, in four-days instead of five.”
The overall sentiment from employees towards the four-day work week is overwhelmingly positive. A few quotes from team members help illustrate this:
“For the first time in I don't know how long, weekends actually feel like weekends because I'm able to decompress from work on Friday, and do errands without dealing with crowds and traffic. I love this benefit so, so much!” — Jason, VP of Engineering
“I am grateful for the four-day work week because I can dedicate special time for myself or my family.” – Valerie, Technical Project Manager
“My mental health has never been better thanks to the four-day work week! As a father and husband, most of my waking hours are spent with family, work and family duties, but for the first time in a long while, to be able to get many consecutive hours just for myself to spend however I want has positively affected me more than I can put into words! So thank you Ninjacat!”
– Zhan, UX Specialist
“I am grateful for the four-day work week because I have a long weekend every week to spend time with the family and take care of chores and appointments meant for workdays. By starting the weekend early, I can use Sunday to unwind and still get everything done. I feel more refreshed, and Mondays don’t seem so bad anymore.” — Saad, IT Systems Engineer
These are just a few of the many grateful responses from the NinjaCat team to our four-day work week schedule. Mental health has always been a top priority at NinjaCat, and our adjusted schedule has placed the mental health of our team at the forefront of operational concerns.
"Seeing the positive impact on our team's mental health and overall wellbeing has been incredibly rewarding, and we're excited to continue supporting a healthy work-life balance," said Deraval.
“I encourage other companies to at least consider running a similar experiment to see if a four-day workweek might work for them. For us it has proven to be a win-win situation for both the company and the employees.”
If you’re interested in experimenting with four-day work weeks in your organization, or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us through the site or on social media.