How We Made A 9 Day Fortnight A Reality

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree May 09, 2018

Last month, our Head of People Claire shared the exciting news that we were going to offer the option of working a 9 day fortnight. With the new financial year on the horizon, everyone would be able to choose between receiving a pay rise, or having every other Friday off.

Edo is a design and technology consultancy in Bristol, UK, with a permanent staff of about 25. It's always been a good place to work, with a healthy work/life balance. But we knew some of our approaches were informed more by how we thought things should be done than what we really needed.

There was too much process and hierarchy. Our journey has been influenced by Frederic Laloux and sites like Corporate Rebels. Less hierarchy, more autonomy, and greater wellness and purpose at work began to feel like the solutions we needed.

What and why

The 9 day fortnight emerged from staff feedback. A common theme emerged from one-to-ones, our monthly check-in survey, and wider conversations: once people reach a certain income, having more free time becomes as important as having more money.

We're certainly very privileged to be in this position. But our thinking is that more time off means people come into work happier, and physically and mentally healthier. Productivity starts to dip on Fridays anyway - a quick glance at our Slack usage stats shows that. Offering people the chance to simply not work every other Friday felt like the obvious next step.

We've been pretty clear that this is a 10% reduction in working hours, not squeezing 10 working days into 9. So that means Fridays off are the same as the weekend - no dialing into meetings or checking messages. We've also introduced a 'buddy system' for teams who have multiple people taking Fridays off. These people arrange to work alternate Fridays, meaning anything critical still gets covered.

So how did it work in practice? Well, we didn't overthink it. Those of us who took up the offer of a 9 day fortnight updated our calendars to show we wouldn't be in work every other Friday. Then we started using our Fridays off to do things other than work. We've had people go swimming, rock climbing, and return to hobbies like drawing. One colleague has a baby on the way and is looking forward to extra family time.

My first Friday off coincided with some uncharacteristically warm British spring weather, so I spent the day at my allotment. Despite a weekend filled with supermarket trips, DIY, and seeing friends, I returned on the Monday feeling well rested and looking forward to work.

Edo

How's it working out?

We're still early in the experiment, so data on how its impacted productivity is thin on the ground. One immediate quantifiable benefit though was on our bottom line. As a small service-based business, cash flow is always on our minds. Offering time off instead of pay rises meant this year's wage bill didn't increase as much.

Anecdotally, some of the other benefits we're seeing are:

  • Happiness and wellness: I'm using my Fridays off for my gardening project and some volunteering I do, and am feeling more fulfilled as a result. Others are reporting the same. Three-day weekends mean there's enough time to deal with life admin, find time to relax, and pursue your interests.
  • Recruitment: We saw an immediate increase in job applications and speculative applications. We even got an enquiry from Central America! Bristol has a big design and tech industry. There are usually more vacancies than people to fill them, and most employers offer pretty similar pay and benefits. A 9 day fortnight has given Edo something different. It also makes a statement about how we do business. Lots of people are moving to Bristol because it offers a less workaholic lifestyle than bigger European cities, so we think our 9 day fortnight will help us attract the best of these people.

Interestingly, only about a third of our staff immediately took up the 9 day fortnight offer. Cost of living is a factor - buying a home here is expensive, and a higher salary improves your chances of getting a home loan. I'll be curious to see if more people switch to a 9 day fortnight over time, and what new hires choose to do.

For now though, I’m excited about my long weekends and (hopefully) helping show that taking an extra day to pursue my passions means I do better at work, too.

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This guest blog is written by Mike Dunn. Mike Dunn is an Experience Consultant at Edo, a web design and technology consultancy in Bristol, UK. He joined Edo five years ago, after a couple of years in the world of corporate IT and change management. When he’s not working Mike enjoys riding his bike, listening to podcasts, and trying to breathe life into his allotment. He’s also an armchair sport fan and a sitting-on-the-sofa-reading-the-entire-internet enthusiast.

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