A SMALL Irish company is proving that a four-day working week is not only possible but has the potential to work exceptionally well.
The argument for a four-day working week with no loss of pay has gained traction in Ireland recently, particularly since Ireland's biggest public service union, Fórsa, came out in favour of the movement.
Critics have argued that it could never work, or that the idea of a four-day working week is something which may be achieved but only years into the future, or that only massive, wealthy corporations would be able to afford it.
But one small business in County Donegal is proving this is not quite the case.
Last year, the CEO of Donegal tech company 3D Issue gave his 25 staff members a choice of reward after they successfully launched a new product, offering them either a 20% pay rise, or a four-day working week.
"I asked my entire team the same question, thinking that I’d let the majority’s vote influence my decision-making," CEO Paul McNulty said.
"I had an inkling that more people would choose a shorter working week but I was surprised by the unanimity: not a single staff member opted for more money."
Mr McNulty told The Irish Post that while the scheme took a lot of time and research before it could be implemented, it has absolutely been worth it.
"Everyone comes to work refreshed now after their 3-day weekend, and more enthused about their work. And as a bonus, we are just as productive as we were on a 5 day week.
"Everyone seems delighted with the initiative and happier in their work and in themselves."
Staff member Isla McGuckin agreed, saying they were "delighted" to be given the option as "You don't realise how busy your life is until you get a free day to yourself".
When Covid hit Irish shores and sent everyone out of the office to work from home, staff didn't get quite as much fun out of their 3-day weekend as they had hoped--but for those with young families, trying to juggle childcare and homeschooling during the working week, it was another bonus.
CEO McNulty says he had introduced the 4-day week "primarily as a thank you to the team", but also in the hopes that the shorter week would boost job satisfaction, raise productivity and staff morale, and keep staff turnover as low as possible.
This too, he says, has been accomplished.
"No one has left the company since we switched to a 4-day week," he told The Irish Post.
"And, funnily enough, we now get 10 times the applicants that we would normally get when we advertise a job. People are looking for more flexibility, for more balance. I think the pandemic has made people take stock. "
He added that he thinks the 4-day week will eventually become the norm in Ireland, and that 3D Issue were simply "early" in introducing it.
He warned however, that "research and forward planning are key" when introducing an upheaval as impactful as a 4-day week, admitting he wished he had "given more consideration" to how things such as annual leave holidays would work.
"Ensuring that you have the resources in place to cover roles and functions is also crucial," he warned.
Overall though, the plan has been a success, he says, as the company were able "to invest the money we'd set aside for pay rises to bring in fresh talent, perspectives and ideas".
"Staff come into work refreshed, with their batteries fully recharged, after enjoying a bonus day to themselves," Mr McNulty said.
"The entire team is happier. And isn’t that what life is all about?"