5 lessons from our 4 day work week
Let’s face it - our nonprofit workplaces have changed massively over the past couple of years.
Whether you’re talking about the war for talent, the shift to hybrid/remote, or “The Great Resignation,” smart organizations are getting the message that the way we work needs to change - and fast.
We heard the call loud and clear here at Blue Sky Philanthropy - so two years ago, we decided to test out a four-day work week.
What originally started out a 6-month trial - with the support of the amazing 4 Day Week Global Pilot Program - has become a permanent part of our company due to all of the benefits we’ve experienced at every level of the organization.
But I won’t sugar coat it - change like this can be hard!
We’ve had to push way out of our comfort zone, and challenge some ingrained, lifelong habits (like checking email 11 times an hour!) - but the outcome has been worth every moment.
I promised to keep you updated as we embarked on this journey of working smarter, not harder - so here’s what I’ve learned so far from implementing the four-day week:
1. We need to stop working reactively
Many of us have bought into the myth that we must work reactively, especially if we're in fundraising or donor-facing roles.
We tend to come into work, log onto email and then get immediately lost down that rabbit hole - and research backs this up, studies have shown the average worker is checking their email as often as every six minutes!
I’ve been working on breaking the cycle of working reactively and not allowing email and messaging to determine my priorities for the day.
If you've created an organizational culture that has built-in expectation of instantaneous responses to slack or teams or email, that’s something you need to be mindful of, and think about changing within your organization.
2. The power of proactively planning your week
I time block in the mornings because that's when I know I’m most creative. I'm very strategic about how I'm using my time when it comes to scheduling meetings, doing admin tasks etc. - and that is all planned out at the beginning of the week.
I often hear people say they don't have control over their own schedule.
Now, of course, depending upon the type of role you're in, you may have more or less control, but I pretty much guarantee you that you have more control over your schedule than you realize.
Scheduling your highest priorities and keeping that commitment to yourself makes such a difference in terms of being able to effectively implement the four-day week.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of systems and processes
For any organization to successfully make the permanent transition to the four-day week, we need to understand and map out the workflows that make up our days and make up our work.
Ask yourself - where can I reduce duplication, and strategically use automation?
For example, you can use systems such as a simple automated email series to engage your new donors and free up time.
Automation has gotten a bad name in fundraising, and I have to say I completely disagree. I believe strategic automation can actually improve the experience both for the donor and other stakeholders in your organization.
4. Plan for your day off
I’ll admit it…I am my own worst enemy when it comes to the four-day week.
I often feel a strong temptation to work on that fifth day!
That urge is not to be overlooked. It's a big part of the transition - and has been for most folks that I've spoken to. I’ve come to expect those worries and thoughts on that fifth day - my day off - and to counter that I plan out my day.
I’ve started blocking out a couple hours and leaving my phone behind to spend some time at the park enjoying nature. I recommend that for everyone!
5. Get the support you need to implement your trial
If your organization is interested in implementing a four-day work week, you don't need to do this alone.
Having access to the Four Day Week Global program and the support of other organizations implementing a 4-day week has made all the difference in our transition.
They are launching new programs every quarter in different regions, and are currently holding information sessions this August - so if you’re interested in finding out more, make sure you visit fourdayweek.com.
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