Everyone in Vulcan Post Malaysia has been pretty much a WFH for over a year (with a short comeback in the office from June to October 2020), and it’s now the standard for many other companies with a workforce that can work remotely.
Commission Factory, Which is an affiliate marketing network based in Australia, which is one of those companies. But apart from encouraging remote work, they have also been trying a 4 day work week since December 2020 in their Malaysian office.
According to them, they saw a 200% increase in revenue in the first quarter of 2021 since the introduction of this new work culture, along with reports of a happier workforce.
The 4-day work week is nothing new, with reports of a handful of companies around the world picking up on it in 2019 after that. Microsoft Japan announced It would be his practice. However, we haven’t seen this trend very often in Malaysia yet.
So how does Commission Factory do this, and can it be replicated by other Malaysian companies?
1. It is not a compact table
One of the negatives that is usually brought up when mentioning the 4 day work week is that 5 days of work are compressed into just 4 days.
This may overburden employees. To avoid this, Emily, Marketing Director at Commission Factory, told Vulcan Post that a 4-day work week instead means 28 hours of work over 4 days (versus 35 hours of work in the same duration).
But does that then not mean that less work is being done overall? Well, maybe not, because on average, it is found that employees can waste 1-3 hours on an 8-hour workday (excluding lunch and vacations). Therefore, it is possible to get the work done in less time by cutting out those extra wasted hours.
2. Employees can choose their own day off
“We do not specify the days, but we alternate the days that the employees spend between the different teams, as most of them want leave on Monday or Friday. We have a routine system to ensure everyone has a Friday or Monday vacation.”
She added: “All assigned days are signed by team leaders and updated in our Teams schedule to provide visibility, and we have a buddy system when one is away so that one of the other team members can cover it for their day.”
The vacation structure at Commission Factory remains the same, as if the employees work 5 days a week. At the same time, the Commission Factory has made sure to assure employees that the move will not imply a wage cut.
3. Give employees the right tools
To facilitate the new work culture, Commission Factory uses project management tools like Asana and Microsoft Planner to map work and increase transparency and visibility, a move that has also become common with WFH and the remote work culture.
At the same time, the team has created an in-house knowledge center that includes Zoom recordings of meetings for employees to watch and keep up with, and are constantly finding more resources to help them.
4. Keep up with timely and streamlined communications
At Commission Factory, teams don’t deal with just a 4-day work week. The company has teams in 15 countries, so time zones are another challenge to consider.
Emily gave an example of how they dealt with this. “To make this easier within the advertiser’s team, for example, we use Microsoft Shifts. This allows team members to see who is in each day, and it allows a team member to copy into another member to cover a specific activity or task.”
“This is perhaps the most challenging, to ensure that others complete tasks when the person is on the outside for the client. We are experimenting with Teams and Asana to overcome this and, where possible, automate processes across the company.”
5. Get rid of deficiencies in tasks
Since teams don’t do work 5 days a week, they needed to find ways to use the time they had available more efficiently.
When finding solutions, they simplified their ticketing system for their product team, reduced meeting times from one hour to 30 minutes as a standard, and avoided double-processing of tasks.
Emily explained that the latter means that one person will represent each team present at the meeting rather than the entire team.
6. Inform clients of the new business culture
For companies that serve clients, it can seem difficult to implement anything other than the standard work culture 5-9, 5 days a week. Not to mention, some clients may demand a lot, even on company holidays.
Emily said Commission Factory made her transformation very clear to her clients while reassuring them as well. “Our customers reported to us with a video from our CEO that shows that this does not imply a drop in service as well as the regular catch-up and scheduled meetings held directly with clients.”
To maintain service quality, the Commission Factory teams had instead to structure themselves and enhance their services through improved internal cooperation.
So far, this strategy has worked well, with Emily saying that some of her clients have contacted the team directly for support in introducing similar initiatives themselves.
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Of course, employees can be happier and overall, 4-day work weeks are promoted to improve employee productivity and efficiency, but there must be measurable tools in place.
For a sales team, Commission Factory measures the number of meeting requests sent to contacts, the number of sales meetings and events the team facilitates, and most importantly, the number of sales and the amount of revenue delivered, and more.
Emily shared those metrics after introducing the 4-day work week, and they saw that goals for all regions more than doubled year-over-year, despite the fall in hours.
From what I can see, while this shift in work culture is important, it is not as daunting as it sounds. Some Malaysian companies may not be able to implement exactly the same strategies, but trial and error can lead to better fit solutions. After all, Commission Factory admits that it’s still too early for them, and that there will always be improvements to be made.
Will we see more companies practice 4-day work weeks after that? Maybe not on the increase, but with a large portion of the working population now accustomed to telecommuting and WFH, it is possible to finally see this concept grow on us.
Featured image courtesy: Commission Factory