As the weather in the Northern Hemisphere turns colder and we start to head towards the shorter, colder days of winter, it felt like a good time to reflect on some of the People Ops experiments we ran across the course of the summer this year.

To start, referencing summer is no longer relevant. Despite having a remote and distributed team, until recently we’ve been spread globally—but only north of the equator. Now, our team stretches east to west and north to south so really we're referencing the months of June, July, and August—whatever that season may be for you! Over the last 3 years, we have experimented with reshaping the way that we work together. We're already largely asynchronous and so there is flexibility in the team to set up their schedule in the way that suits them best. However, we did work a fairly typical Monday-Friday cadence regardless of how each individual team member had set up their working day.

We also work hard. Our team is dedicated to producing the best possible product experience for our students. We don’t always get it right but we aim to learn quickly so that we can continue to build something that we’re proud of. A big part of this is making sure that we balance our drive for productivity at work, by giving each team member time to live fulfilling lives outside of work too. We want to make sure that our team is both challenged and engaged but also doesn’t work themselves to the point of burnout.

To facilitate this we have run a “Summer Friday” program for the last 3 years during the months of June-August. The mechanics of how it’s worked has changed a bit from year to year as we’ve learned from our team’s feedback, but in essence it’s involved 2 things: no meeting Fridays, and then in addition, 4-8 weeks where we worked a 4-day week overall. The vast majority of the team worked Monday-Thursday and had Fridays off—but in order to ensure our students and mentors were supported, our Customer Experience (CX) and Admissions teams rotated the day that individual team members had off.

So how did it go? The 4-day workweek has garnered a lot of press recently as both countries and companies have tried it with great success. We wanted to know how it would work for us, so we conducted some user research and testing.

Our aim with the experiment was to see if the initiative achieved the following:

  • A reward for the team for a year of hard work and excellence
  • A reduction in the stress and pressure on a high performing and self-driven team
  • An overall increase in (self-reported) happiness within the team
  • A minimal or neutral effect on overall team productivity

We answered these questions through regular surveys sent out to the team, and via data analysis.

How the Team Perceived the 4-Day Workweek

At the end of this year’s Summer Friday program, the team reported that they felt:

  • Significantly happier, with 77% of the team indicating that their happiness greatly improved and no team members reported feeling a decrease in overall happiness
  • Less stressed, with 81% of the team indicating that their stress levels reduced and only 1 team member stating that their stress levels were marginally higher
  • 50% of the team felt their productivity improved while a further 45% felt there was no overall impact on their productivity

4 Day Workweek 1

In short, it appears from the team perspective that our Summer Friday initiative was a success.

How a 4-Day Workweek Impacted Productivity

In addition to the team surveys, we also pulled productivity data from the two teams it’s easiest to measure: CX and Admissions. This was done to confirm the self-reported findings of the team, and supplement our understanding of the impact of a shorter workweek. This year we ran our 4-day workweek in the months of July and August.

4 Day Workweek 2 4 Day Workweek 3

In the cases of both teams, we saw an overall improvement in productivity levels, with daily tasks completed in July and August outstripping tasks completed in May and June. 

Overall, we’re really happy with the results of the Summer Fridays and 4-day workweek programs we’ve run so far. Our next iterations will look at both extending these perks and reframing it so that it works for our entire global team.

Interested in joining our team and receiving perks like Summer Fridays? Check out our Careers page!

author avatar

Mandy Kerr


Director of People Ops

Enjoyed this article? Try another!

More from the Designlab Blog

Go to blog homepage