The working time model of the four day work week is currently being hotly debated and is part of the New Work movement. As the name suggests, the model involves distributing weekly working hours over four days instead of the familiar five. The number of working hours is either reduced or distributed over four days.
Vereda, partner agency of Raidboxes, has been testing the four day week for its team since August 2021. At the same time, the company has reduced its working hours from 40 to 32, and the agency remains closed on Fridays. Co-founder Julian Junghöfer tells us what everyday working life at Vereda is like.
Julian, you introduced the four day week in your agency. How did this step come about? And what are your initial experiences?
Currently, the majority of companies in Germany and worldwide work five days a week. The five day week and fixed working hours have a long tradition and date back to the days of steam engines. At that time, the working world was dependent on the running times of the machines.
We heard about the concept from Belgium and were very taken with it. We then wanted to introduce the four day model here as well and decided on a six-month test phase. After one year, we can say that we have benefited in all fields.
Advantages and disadvantages of the four day week
What are the specific benefits for your agency and the team?
More productive and creative employees
We notice an increase in productivity from our employees most clearly. Productivity and performance have not collapsed, but rather increased. In addition, the creativity of each individual employee has increased as a result of more "me-time".
A third day off per week has a positive effect on employee satisfaction. A better work-life balance reduces stress, which leads to less sick leave and thus enables more effective working.
More flexibility for employees
An extra day off makes it easier for us to combine our private lives and work lives. Importantly, flexibility has also been shown to boost productivity.
Increased attractiveness as an employer
As an agency that offers its employees a four day week, we stand out from other companies and thus increase our attractiveness as an employer. In industries with a shortage of skilled workers, for example, companies can use this to convince potential employees of their benefits.
There is also criticism of the model, since the work does not become less at the same time. What do you do to ensure that the pressure on employees does not increase?
The introduction of a four day week requires process optimization. The workload has not increased but remained the same. The point is that we have changed the way we work and can therefore do the same work in less time. At this point, you always have to ask "How?". And this is precisely what has changed in our minds.
Attractive employers and junior staff
WordPress agencies are desperately looking for junior staff. Do you have more job applications with the new model? How do you generally manage to make yourselves attractive as employers?
We live "New Work" in our agency not only with the four day week, which is of course a big "applicant magnet". As an employer, we also offer other benefits, such as fresh, home-cooked lunch with the entire team every day, varied team events and the opportunity to work from anywhere at any time.
You have decided to be a training company. Why? And how high were the administrative hurdles along the way?
It is important to us to promote the next generation and also to take care of our own junior staff. To become a training company, it is only a prerequisite that one is recognized by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce as a suitable training facility. And that an employee is personally and professionally suitable to lead the training, i.e. has a training license.
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Corporate culture and employees
Vereda is committed to diversity and gender equality, and you're more on formal terms witch each other. How come that you place such a strong emphasis on values? And how is that received by your customers?
How can you not focus strongly on values these days? We are a young agency and so not only diversity is important to us, but especially our values (bold, efficient, transparent, personal, professional and enthusiastic). Being on a first-name basis is an example of the personal level on which we want to communicate with our clients. And that is consistently very well received by everyone.
In the technical environment, it is difficult to find women as skilled workers. How do you go about this?
In principle, the gender of the employees is completely irrelevant to us; we do not have a quota of women or are specifically looking for certain employees. We are happy about every team member who supports us with their professional skills.
A few words about you and Vereda?
I am co-founder of vereda and have been building websites since I was 11 years old. I have tried a lot of things, from custom programming to homepage construction kits to content management systems, and now I know what works really well.
Even then I noticed that most websites (especially from agencies) are built completely without a strategy and requirements catalog and therefore don't pay off on the set goals. In addition, the agency business is known for long working hours (even on weekends) and a lot of deadline pressure.
To counter this, we founded the digital agency vereda. In recent months, I have also been interviewed as an expert by various media (including WDR and ProSieben). In the meantime, we have successfully supported more than 100 customers, including the Hafenkäserei from Münster or the industry-renowned surface manufacturer Elesgo.