LearnJam now operates a 4-day work week. This means we’re away from our desks on Fridays, spending time resting, learning, being with friends and family and doing the things that energise and inspire us.
To make this change work, we’ve completely restructured our working week to allow for more dedicated, creative and focused time on our projects.
The 4-day work week is part of a range of changes happening at LearnJam as we become a more purpose-driven organisation that brings positive change to the worlds of education and work.
Where did it all begin?
In 2020, LearnJam began a large-scale research project into inclusivity. This helped to raise our consciousness about the problems with the education systems of today: they are inherently inequitable (for example in terms of gender, race, social background, etc.), and they contribute to mental health problems, eco-anxiety and excessive strain on natural resources.
Not only did the research have a great influence on our approach to learning design, it also made us question our organisational purpose and the impact we could have on systems of education and learning. We wanted to do more to shift and repurpose these systems to be in pursuit of the things that humans need – equity, human health and sustainability – and so we embarked upon a journey to becoming more purpose-driven.
Re-evaluating our ways of working
To make this work, we realised that we needed to re-evaluate our own organisational systems. We asked ourselves questions about the way we were operating: the way we planned our weeks, the way we allocated team members to projects, the way that we valued ourselves – equating value with time rather than the expertise, innovation, service and tangible benefits we were delivering to our clients – and how these ways of working might be negatively impacting us, our work, and the wider impact we were able to make to wider systems of education, learning and work.
When interrogating our own systems, we looked at everything in a new light. If we were to value ourselves based on the tangible benefits we were delivering, should we accept working 9-5 Monday to Friday as optimal? Could we really be effective for that many hours, five days a week? And, did we want to be? How could we make space to rest and learn, to be inspired and energised?
The 4-day week movement and our trial
We’re not the first company to adopt a 4-day week but it’s a movement that is only really just starting to gain traction:
- This UK-based campaign for a 4-day week says it’s time for change.
- This global community encourages everyone to play their part in working towards a more sustainable work environment.
- A handful of countries – New Zealand, Iceland and now Scotland – have announced trials.
Nonetheless, it felt like the best way to think about moving to a 4-day week was to test it out. And so, throughout July we made the switch to Friday being part of the weekend.
Throughout the trial, we shared our thoughts and feelings about the impact it was having on our individual and work lives. We unanimously decided that it would be a switch for the better. One of the feelings shared by all was that of being energised. And it felt good that our new approach to work mirrored one of our own learning design principles, in that we were giving ourselves additional time and space to rest and process the information from the week – a principle we champion in the design of our learning products.
Changing the structure of our week
Changing the overall structure of the week to a shorter one made us re-evaluate the structure of each day. How would we make the most of those 4 days to deliver maximum value to our clients, as well as nourishing ourselves as individuals, as a team, and as an organisation that wants to learn, evolve, and grow? How could we give our inner work the time and space needed to complement and enhance our outer work with clients? How could we feel more connected to each other while working remotely?
One positive change that looks set to stay is giving ourselves the space to come together each Wednesday afternoon for WeJam. This collaboration on internal work provides an opportunity to connect as people and to collaborate on interesting internal and project questions; embracing our collective intelligence.
In giving ourselves back time, we are able to value it more and put it to better use. And as a learning organisation, it feels important to be learning how we work best for ourselves and for our clients; to build even stronger, long-term relationships and to face the future with more purpose.
What do our clients think?
A key part of our transition to a 4-day week was telling our clients. The news has largely been met with positive responses and has served to strengthen our resolve.
“Well this is exciting.”
“Congratulations, we should all aspire to do the same.”
It’s also been useful to think more clearly about how we ensure our 4-day week marries with clients working a five-day week. We recognise the need to set clear expectations and stick to them.
What does the LearnJam team think?
“I spend my Fridays with my youngest daughter Elise, generally getting outside and doing something we both enjoy. I then give myself time on a Saturday morning to do some reading related to work. It would come at a high price for me and for the family to return to a 5-day week.” – Delphine
“It feels like a great thing for me, and for the company. Having a better work-life balance means we can all bring a lot more into our work with LearnJam and do a much better job for both our internal projects and for our clients.” – Jo
“I valued having time for inner work, reading, exercising, cooking, and slowly learning to embrace the extra day without feeling guilty. As a freelancer, I had already experienced moments of having more time, but also moments with much less time – even working weekends. The 4-day week movement made me realise that this time is crucial to have healthy and sustainable lives, and we should protect it. I hope LearnJam’s brave and positive experience encourages others to try it out.” – Berta.
Find out more
- 4-day week
- The Shorter Working Week: a radical and pragmatic proposal
- ‘Shorter’ – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
- ‘How to do Nothing’ – Jenny Odell
How can we help?
If your organisation is thinking of transitioning to a 4-day week, we’d be happy to chat. You can contact our head of inner work, firstname.lastname@example.org