- Basis Technologies adopted a 4.5-day workweek by making Fridays a half-day.
- The goal is to give employees “a mental break” at the end of the week, an executive told BI.
- The company is giving workers flexibility, but if there’s work to be done, they must sign in.
Call it a baby step to a four-day workweek.
Basis Technologies, an advertising software company, is making 2024 the year of the half-day Friday. Basis decided to let workers roll out at noon at the end of the week following several years of experiments that at times included being off for the whole day on Friday.
But cleaving a full day off the workweek proved difficult, in part for some younger and entry-level workers still learning to manage their time and prioritize what needs to get done for the week, Emily Barron, the company’s executive vice president of talent and development, told Business Insider. So the sweet spot, for now, is a morning of work followed by an early start to the weekend.
“Everyone has a couple hours on Friday mornings to catch up, do their work, and then take advantage of the Friday afternoon,” Barron said.
The decision by Basis to make the workweek 4.5 days could offer an alternative for companies that are short-workweek curious but aren’t ready to commit. Advocates for four days of work for five days’ pay say it leads to better work-life balance and more committed workers, as BI has reported.
Looking for a balance
A shorter workweek sounds great to workers yet the prospect can leave some bosses wondering how they’ll meet the needs of clients who expect an answer to an email even if it’s sent hours before the weekend kicks off.
At Basis, if something urgent pops up on a Friday afternoon, workers are expected to respond, Barron said. When they make plans that would prevent that, they should take a half day’s vacation and find someone to cover for them, she said.
“We’re giving you this opportunity to be flexible, but the expectation is if there’s work to be done, we’ve got to get the work done,” she said.
So while people are still expected to be available for something pressing, Barron said, the company is also having more conversations around what truly can’t wait and what might be OK to put off till Monday. To help workers prepare for the following week, the company has a policy of not having internal meetings on Fridays. People can clean up their inboxes, catch up on other work, and, at noon local time, do a soft sign-off for the weekend, she said.
“It really is intended for people to take a mental break, to get caught up, to, you know, go to that workout class that they couldn’t get to at 7:30 in the morning,” Barron said.
Tinkering with Fridays
In the past two to three years, Barron said, Basis has experimented with a four-day workweek and half days on Fridays. For part of last year, the company rotated every other Friday: Some were a full day off and others were a half-day. Having a three-day weekend sometimes made things difficult, she said.
“We’re a services organization and we’re a sales organization so shutting down on that Friday where we had the full day was really challenging for people to kind of understand the concept of, ‘When there’s still work, like, we still have to do work,’ she said. “We’re not necessarily closing to our vendors, to our clients.”
The Chicago company has most of its workers in North America and its customers are in the Americas and Europe.
Having that first half of the day on Fridays proved more workable for the remote-first company, which has about 900 employees, Barron said, partly because workers could still check in with their bosses and teams.
Basis has told workers they can expect to have half-day Fridays throughout 2024 as long as business doesn’t suffer, she said. But the compromise approach to giving workers more time away from work doesn’t mean Basis has ruled out the four-day workweek altogether. If more companies switch to that schedule, she said, it could be an easier move for Basis to make.
“The four-day workweek is not off the table,” Barron said. “It’s still something we’re thinking through.”