Isla McGuckan from 3D Issue and Dearan Boyle from the ICE Group are two people who currently work a four-day week. This blog gives an insight into how their quality of life has improved since their working week was reduced.
Isla McGuckan, 3D Issue
“Would you prefer a 20% pay-rise or Fridays off?”
A few weeks into my new job at 3D Issue, this wasn’t a conversation I expected to be having with my boss. To support my husband’s photography/film-making business by shouldering most of our family’s day-to-day “stuff”, I was already working half-time. So, I’ll be honest, I did give the question a moment’s thought. Would it be possible to squeeze a demanding job into just four, four-hour slots? But with young daughters still at national school, the prospect of having an entire morning to myself was incredibly appealing. I chose the Fridays-off option.
How carefully I guarded those precious Friday mornings. I used the weekly headspace to tackle long-neglected creative projects. (I even got a publishing deal for a picture book – but that’s literally another story!) And then the pandemic struck.
According to a recent UCD study about parental roles during lockdown, “There was a clear gender difference in who was helping the children with remote learning, with 95% of children reporting that their mothers helped them, compared to 52% of children reporting that their fathers helped them.”
Because of my work set-up at 3D Issue (Monday to Thursday, 9 till 1, 100% remote) our family was able to manage things more equitably. I worked in the mornings, we’d have lunch together as a family, and my husband worked in the afternoons. My “Free Fridays” became “Family Fridays” during lockdown, making me appreciate them all the more when schools reopened.
Living through a pandemic has helped me post-rationalise many life decisions. My family is my priority but I do need to work, and not just for financial reasons. A Harvard University study highlighted the benefits – to daughters, in particular – of working mothers. Who’s going to deny their kids better careers, higher pay, and more equal relationships?!
But Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg makes an excellent point. “When a couple announces that they are having a baby, everyone says “Congratulations!” to the man and “Congratulations! What are you planning on doing about work?” to the woman.”
Maybe our collective experiences during and following the pandemic will prompt more discussions around different ways of working and promote respect for the choices that women and men make, both at home and work. I, for one, couldn’t feel more invested in proving that a four-day week is productive, positive and possible!
Dearan Boyle, ICE Group
I remember the day well when our Directors made the announcement in front of the whole company that ICE Group would be changing to a four-day working week.
The reaction was one of complete silence, you could literally hear a pin drop. I’m sure this was not the response that was expected but to be honest, I don’t think anyone really knew what this change would actually mean.
Personally, that silence has proven to be a deafening echo which has changed the way I work and above all, the way I live. It really has changed my life.
Prior to the four-day week, I felt that I was “living to work”. The weekends seemed to be getting shorter and shorter each month. I was constantly thinking about work and couldn’t switch off. I had little or no time to see family every weekend and noticed that sometimes I had to choose and ask myself the difficult questions.
“Will I go out with my friends this evening and just visit family next weekend?”
“Will I play football with group x or golf with group y?”
That all changed when the four-day week commenced. Now I “work to live” and not the other way around. I take each Friday off and find myself more focused in the office, prioritising tasks and planning each day more effectively.
I no longer need to choose between family and friends. I no longer need to give priority to one thing over another. With the extra day, I get to do the small things I could never do before like mowing the lawn on a Friday morning (after a lie in of course), grocery shopping or doing the much-needed odd repair in the house – all of which keeps my better half happy! Now we have more quality time together at the weekends to do whatever we want.
I also play a lot of sport, especially golf. This used to take up a large chunk of the weekend but now it doesn’t. Overall, my personal life has improved, I am generally happier in my demeanour and because of this, business has also improved.
My life has truly changed for the better because of the four-day week.