Taking time off? Moving beyond the four-day workweek
Introducing a 11-month work year for employees with no reduction in wages may seem like a pipe dream but for Jo Hunter, CEO and Co-founder of social enterprise 64 Million Artists, it was an experiment that has translated into business success, as well as proven beneficial for her employees.
As told to Business Insider, Hunter detailed her organisation’s move towards its current working model, which was started in 2022 and continued into 2023. The organisation had, before then, already implemented a four-day workweek for their employees. But, having observed her employees feel the effects of burnout and exhaustion, Hunter decided to give them a paid four weeks off in August after reading an essay from American researcher and professor Brene Brown who had done the same. Hunter claimed that the break gave her employees better decision-making skills when they returned to work, boosted their creativity and ambition, and allowed the organisation to attract more talent.
“In the UK, we see being productive as sitting at our desks churning out emails, but what makes a lasting impact in businesses is innovation, inclusion, and ideas,” Hunter explained. “You can’t do those things if your staff are burnt out and taking a break helps to prevent that.” The break taken gave Hunter time to spend time with her family, read, and take on skills like wood-chopping.
READ MORE: The four-day workweek: Focus on the journey and not the destination
While Hunter does not advocate that every organisation should try an 11-month work year, she does suggest that employers take time to consider the feasibility of the option before dismissing it entirely. She also suggested that organisations should reconsider return-to-office mandates, calling it a blanket response to a more nuanced issue.
“Giving people more freedom, not less, produces better ideas and more productive employees,” Hunter concluded.