Yousefi gave insight into the magic of a reduced workweek and his biggest takeaways from trying it.
She explained that it all started about eight years ago, when she started having migraines at work and anxiety, and was told by a migraine expert that she needed to cut back on her work.
As a lawyer, she had a demanding job and her employers were not happy that she cut a day. She said, “They immediately cut my salary by 20 percent.”
She soon found she was more productive, however, with four days.
“I was exceeding my goals,” she said, “I was happier and overall I was performing much better.”
When she started her own law firm, she had to work seven days a week. Then she had a baby and went back to the four-day work week.
Right away, she said “all the profits came back.” Realizing the power of the reduced workweek, she decided to try doing the same for her team.
She was prepared for the worst, ready to lose 20% of her profits, she said. But with the hope that her employees would be happier and more loyal, “the long-term benefits seemed to outweigh any short-term pain or loss,” she explained.
Not only was there no loss, but there were windfall profits as well.
“The magic is that they all performed better than working five days a week. As a result, on the employers’ side, our earnings skyrocketed,” she said.
The company has doubled in size and, in terms of employees, “the uniform response is just that they’re generally happier. Because they’re happier, they’re more productive,” she added.
In fact, they tend to take around 70% of the day off and then spend another around 30% of the day dealing with work-related issues. But she said it’s the flexibility of it that’s key.
At company websiteyou can see photos of employees enjoying the extra day off doing self-care activities, like meditation.
They can also spend more time with their family.
“The concept of the four-day workweek isn’t black or white,” she says, “it’s about the psychology behind it. It’s about choice. The ability to take all this on a day, or part of it on a day, off.”
Because the employees are so happy, they are also loyal and don’t want to leave the company, she added.
Overall, she said they “saw absolutely nothing but benefits”.
How it works
The YLaw office actually stays open five days a week.
Yousefi didn’t want to make her employees work 10 hours a day to make up for the lost day, so she instead set up 9-hour days with an hour break, and she took the remaining 10% of hours as a ” loss “.
The majority of employees take Wednesdays off and they have two people in the office that day who answer the phones and alert the lawyers in case of an emergency. Those two people usually take Fridays off, Yousefi said.
“It works perfectly for us,” Yousefi said.
They tested it as a pilot at first, where for the first month they took Wednesdays, then the second month Fridays. In the end, Yousefi sent out polls and the majority voted to ban Wednesdays.
She said that when they took Friday off, they arrived at work with a pile of things to do on Monday, after being out of the office for three days in a row.
When you do Wednesday, she says, “you’re really dealing with a day of inquiries” and “when it comes to customer experience, there’s really no downtime” because you can go there. respond Thursday morning.
When asked if she thinks other companies will follow her lead, Yousefi replied, “I have no doubt they will”, and she’s here to “show them that it works”.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.