Bamboo Rose Blog | Backbone HQ

Why Backbone PLM is Piloting a Four-Day Workweek

At a Glance:

Why a Four-Day Workweek?

Pilot Details: What’s Changing (and not changing) at Backbone?

Four-Day Workweeks: How Will We Measure Success?

What Happens After the Pilot? 

Running a successful fashion tech company means adapting to change and embracing new ideas. In the vast landscape of cloud-based SaaS solutions, part of that transformation entails evolving your brand and challenging the status quo. As an organization, Backbone PLM is adept at challenging ourselves, our customers, and the industry at large to explore new ways of working. We relentlessly seek to improve efficiency while encouraging personal and professional development for our team members. 

As we reflect on organizational growth in the year to come, Backbone is reshaping the way we conduct our business with an emphasis on team health and well-being. Effective January 31, 2022, Backbone is experimenting with a four-day workweek over the next three months. While the global pandemic altered traditional workplace settings, the Great Resignation impacted how hiring managers attract and retain talent. We see this four-day model as a way to bridge the gap between performance and our needs as human beings while giving our business a competitive edge to recruit and preserve the best talent.

With this pilot program in effect, we want our team to balance wellness in their personal and professional lives. We believe mental health matters, family time is essential, and good people deserve a productive work environment. Having an extra day uninhibited by meetings, presentations, or deadlines allows for a genuine rest period to decompress and recharge for the week ahead.

Why a Four-Day Workweek? 

Like many of you, we asked ourselves, “Can we be more productive if we worked fewer hours?” We believe the answer will be a resounding, YES! The traditional work schedule has been in place for so long that it feels instituted by default rather than design. 

What initially sparked an interest in a four-day workweek was a survey conducted by Superhuman. The results showed that: 

  • 72% of workers were twice as likely to stay at a job with a four-day workweek
  • 30% would willingly take a pay cut to work their own schedule
  • 44% had no communication standard 

A four-day workweek isn’t designed to cram anxiety into the front half of the week with the relief of one distraction-free day. We understand that our team members still have personal responsibilities to attend to, so the additional day off from work is intended to augment a flexible, collaborative work environment with a prearranged break to help alleviate work-induced burnout.

Pilot Details: What’s Changing (and not changing) at Backbone? 

We see this trial period as a commitment to working efficiently and effectively. While some aspects of our company will change, goals and business functions will remain the same.

Changing:

  • Meetings and team collaboration are carried out Monday through Thursday
  • No work communication during off days
  • Updated success metrics to track productivity within each department
  • Communicating four-day workweek plan to our customers
  • New system processes to account for four-day workweek

Remaining the same:

  • No changes to employee salaries, company benefits, or PTO policy
  • Q1 company goals and overall company strategy
  • Core working hours within each department

Four-Day Workweeks: How Will We Measure Success? 

After reading the statistics above, Backbone decided to take our own approach to understand internal values, beliefs, and frustrations. Based on our assessment of the research and the current framework business professionals are expected to follow, there are three pain points we hope to counter with our pilot program: 

  1. Emphasizing work-life balance (by minimizing burnout)
  2. Improving productivity
  3. Strengthening recruitment and retention 

1. Reducing Burnout with Work-Life Balance

For employers, the switch to remote work — followed by millions of resignations presented an enormous and somewhat confusing challenge. Even though numerous surveys show that workers increasingly seek remote opportunities, people discover that merging work and home life often leads to employees working longer hours — blurring the lines between personal and professional life to the point of burnout.

We see work-life balance as prioritizing outcomes over outputs. We already recognize the importance of flexible hours with our team, but if a four-day week can be a solution to combat employee fatigue, then we’re all for trying it!  

Justin, one of our Senior Software Developers and a true MVP on the Backbone team, shared his perspective on burnout:

“I don’t realize I’m burnt out until I’m forced to take a step back and realize it. That happened to me over Christmas — I didn’t notice I was burnt out after a marathon of [sprints and product releases], but having a few days of vacation left me feeling super refreshed and energized to come back and work on [our next big project].

The biggest thing I’m excited about is [the four-day workweek] forces you to take a step back and recharge every week when you might not necessarily know you need that yourself. If you do, you feel a responsibility to stick through it and get done what needs to be done even if it makes you less productive.”

We plan to measure the success of the pilot and reduce burnout by gathering regular employee feedback — both qualitative and quantitative. Our leadership team is committed to open, honest communication with team members while creating safe places for people to share the good and the bad they’re experiencing during our pilot, including a new four-day workweek channel in our company Slack account. 

At the end of April, success looks like a happier team experiencing less burnout than before. 

2. Increasing Meaningful Productivity

We are witnessing a seismic shift in the working world’s concept of productivity. The narrative around hours worked has changed to reflect a greater understanding of motivation, morals, and self-worth. Working longer hours doesn’t produce better work — in fact, four-day workweek companies report greater productivity compared to their five-day counterparts. 

While we might be reducing the total number of workdays per week, our team is focusing on making the most of our working hours to maximize productivity. We’re actively encouraging everyone to trim excess meetings, limit unnecessary communications, and reduce distractions to allow more time for focused work. “Everyone is super energized and committed to making sure the experiment works,” Justin shared. “We’ve had internal conversations on how we can get the most out of the four days we have, just because everyone wants this to be successful.”

With this pilot, we’re also betting that performance is at its highest when people feel rested and supported in their roles. Providing the time needed to care for children, attend family events, make trips to the grocery store, or focus on personal needs improves work-life balance and employee satisfaction long term, leading to a greater commitment and investment in the company mission. On this topic, Justin continued:

“The other thing I’d say about software development is that it’s funny how taking some time away from a problem ends up helping you solve it faster. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve burned four hours beating my head against a problem, only to step away and come back the next morning to solve it instantly. I think the four-day workweek will help to provide that space and time.”

Having personal freedom built into our team’s work schedule reduces “presenteeism” — the burden to be present when they’re not productive at work. That allows employees to be more intentional about the hours they work to heighten performance, engagement, and wellness. 

For our pilot program, each department is measuring productivity a little differently, but some core results we’re expecting to see are:

  • Meeting our overall sales targets
  • Meeting expansion and renewal revenue targets
  • Maintaining high customer satisfaction

3. Recruitment and Retention 

If your company is actively hiring for an open role, you’ve likely learned that the job market is tough right now. For a smaller business like ours, it’s difficult to get your posting noticed, and even harder to find great talent without being “outbid” by companies with bigger budgets. In addition to offering competitive wages and traditional benefits like health care, we’re choosing to implement a four-day workweek as part of our strategy to recruit and retain excellent talent.

We believe the data speaks to employees wanting more than money for the work they do. In a recent Iconiq Growth survey, 90 percent of employees who stayed in their roles for 2+ years cited company culture as a reason for doing so, and 62 percent of those who had resigned cited misalignment with their company’s mission as a reason for leaving. 

We want to make Backbone a truly great place to work by fostering a genuine culture that contributes positively to our team’s overall well being. Instead of disguising company culture with free snacks and pizza parties designed to increase the amount of time people spend at work, we want the four-day workweek to contribute to the health and happiness of each one of our team members. This four-day workweek allows us to bring elements of environment and culture together to lay the foundation of success for future Backbone employees and customers. 

What does success look like in this area? These metrics are perhaps the easiest for us to measure, and we’re already seeing the results:

  • More qualified applicants to our job postings
  • Attracting and onboarding great candidates to fill our open positions in less time
  • Reducing employee turnover

What Happens After the Pilot?

We are optimistic the results of this pilot will be successful. Depending on the outcome, we will consider the four-day workweek as a permanent change to our company policies. We plan to follow up after this three-month trial to share more insights into how the four-day week has gone, along with some of our learnings and results. 

As we test this hypothesis, the goal is to remain agile and adaptive in discovering the best course of action for our company and our customers.

    To learn more about Backbone PLM and our open positions, head over to our About Us page!