BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

4-Day Work Weeks Are Still Uncommon In M’sia, Here’s How This Company Is Pulling It Off

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Everyone at Vulcan Post Malaysia has been largely WFH for over a year (with a brief return to the office from June to October 2020), and it’s now the norm for many other companies with workforces that can operate remotely.

Commission Factory, an affiliate marketing network based in Australia, is one of those companies. But aside from encouraging remote working, they’ve also been piloting a 4-day work week since December 2020 in their Malaysian office.

According to them, they’ve seen a 200% revenue increase in Q1 2021 since introducing this new working culture, alongside reports of a happier workforce.

The 4-day work week is nothing new, with reports of a few companies around the world picking it up around 2019 after Microsoft Japan announced it would be practicing it. However, we haven’t seen this trend much in Malaysia so far.

So, how is Commission Factory doing it, and is it replicable by other Malaysian companies?

1. It’s Not A Compressed Schedule

One of the cons that’s commonly brought up at the mention of a 4-day work week is that 5 days of work is compressed into only 4 days’ time.

This could lead to employees being overworked. To avoid that, Emily, Marketing Manager of Commission Factory told Vulcan Post that their 4-day work week instead means 28 hours of work over 4 days (as opposed to 35 hours of work in the same duration).

But then doesn’t this mean that less work is done overall? Well, perhaps not, because on average, it’s been found that employees can waste 1-3 hours in an 8-hour work day (lunch and breaks excluded). So, it’s possible that work can be done in less time by cutting out those extra, wasted hours.

2. Staff Can Choose Their Own Off Day

“We do not fix the days, but we do rotate the days staff have off between the different teams, as most want Monday or Friday off. We have a rota to ensure that everyone gets a Friday or Monday off,” Emily said.

She added, “All assigned days are signed off by the team leads and updated in our Teams Schedule to provide visibility, and we have a buddy system when an individual is away so that one of the other team members can cover them for their day.”

The leave structure at Commission Factory also remains the same, as if employees worked 5 days a week. At the same time, Commission Factory made sure to emphasise to employees that this move would not mean a reduction in pay.

3. Giving Employees The Right Tools

To facilitate their new work culture, Commission Factory uses project management tools like Asana and Microsoft Planner to assign work and increase transparency and visibility, a move that also became common with the WFH and remote working culture.

At the same time, the team built an internal knowledge hub that included Zoom recordings of meetings for employees to watch and catch up, and are constantly finding more resources to help them.

4. Keeping Up Timely And Streamlined Communication

At Commission Factory, the teams aren’t only dealing with 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’re handling this. “To make this easier within the Advertiser team, for example, we use Microsoft Shifts, this allows for team members to know who is in each day, and allows the team member to copy in another member to cover a certain activity or task.”

“This is probably the most challenging, to ensure tasks are completed by others when a person is out for a client. We are trialing Teams and Asana to overcome this and, where possible, automate processes across the company.”

5. Cutting Out Inefficiencies In Tasks

Because the teams are not doing 5 days’ worth of work in a week, they needed to find ways to use the time they have more efficiently.

In coming up with solutions, they streamlined their ticketing system for their product team, reduced meeting times from 1 hour to 30 minutes as a standard rule, and avoid double handling on tasks.

Emily explained that the latter meant that one person would represent each team being present at a meeting instead of the whole team being there.  

6. Informing Clients Of The New Working Culture

For companies who serve clients, it can seem difficult to implement anything else other than the standard 9-5, 5 days a week work culture. Not to mention, some clients can be demanding, even on a company’s off days.

Emily said that Commission Factory made their shift very clear to their clients while also reassuring them. “We informed our clients with a video from our CEO explaining that this did not mean a reduction in service as well as in the regular catch ups and scheduled meetings held with clients directly.”

To keep up the quality of service, Commission Factory’s teams instead had to structure themselves and enhance their service by improving internal collaboration.

Thus far, this strategy has worked well, as Emily shared that some of their own clients have even reached out to team directly to seek support in introducing similar initiatives themselves.

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Of course, employees can be happier and in general, 4-day work weeks are touted to improve employee productivity and efficiency, but there need to be proper measurables in place.

For its sales team, Commission Factory measures how many meeting requests are sent to contacts, how many sales meetings and pitches are being facilitated by the team, and more importantly, how many sales and how much revenue is being delivered, and more.

Emily shared that looking back on these metrics after introducing the 4-day work week, they’ve seen that targets for all regions more than doubled YoY, despite the reduction in working hours.

From what I can see, while this work culture shift is significant, it’s not as daunting as it seems. Some Malaysian companies may not be able to pull it off with the exact same strategies, but trial and error can bring about better suited solutions. After all, Commission Factory acknowledges that it’s also still early days for them, and that there will always be improvements to make.

Will we be seeing more companies practise 4-day work weeks then? Maybe not in a surge, but with a large chunk of the working population now more accustomed to remote working and WFH, it’s possible we’ll see this concept eventually grow on us.

  • You can learn more about Commission Factory here.
  • You can read more work-related articles here.

Featured Image Credit: Commission Factory

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