Everyone at Vulcan Post Malaysia has mostly been WFH for more than a year (with a brief return to the office from June to October 2020), and this is now the norm for many other companies with a workforce that can work remotely.
Factory commission, an affiliate marketing network based in Australia, is one of those companies. But in addition to encouraging telecommuting, they are also piloting a four-day work week from December 2020 in their Malaysian office.
According to them, in the first quarter of 2021, they recorded revenue growth of 200% since the introduction of this new work culture, along with reports of a happier workforce.
The four-day work week is nothing new, and reports from several companies around the world picked it up around 2019. Announced by Microsoft Japan it would practice. However, so far we have not seen much of this trend in Malaysia.
So how does Factory Factory do it and is it replicated by other Malaysian companies?
1. It’s not a tight schedule
One of the weaknesses that is often mentioned when mentioning a four-day work week is that 5 days of work is compressed into only 4 days.
This could lead to employee overwork. To avoid this, Emily, marketing director of Factory Factory, told the Vulcan Post that their four-day work week instead means 28 hours of work in 4 days (as opposed to 35 hours of work of the same duration).
But then that doesn’t mean there’s less work overall? Well, maybe not, because it has been found that on average employees can lose 1-3 hours in an 8-hour workday (lunch and breaks are not included). So, it is possible that the work can be done in less time by subtracting those extra, lost hours.
2. Staff can choose their own day
“We don’t set days, but we rotate staff days for different teams, because most want Monday or Friday. We have a rotation to make sure everyone gets a free Friday or Monday, ”Emily said.
She added, “All assigned days are checked out by the team leader and updated in our team schedule to ensure visibility, and we have a friend system when an individual is absent so they can be covered by one of the other team members. ”
The structure of absences in the commission factory also remains the same, as if employees work five days a week. At the same time, the Factory Commission made sure to emphasize to employees that this move would not mean a reduction in salaries.
3 Giving employees the right tools
To facilitate their new work culture, Commission Factory uses project management tools such as Asana and Microsoft Planner to assign work and increase transparency and visibility, a move that has also become commonplace for WFH and the remote work culture.
At the same time, the team built an internal knowledge hub that included Zoom recordings of meetings that employees can watch and make up for, and constantly find more resources to help them.
4. Maintaining timely and simplified communication
At the Commission factory, teams don’t just deal with a four-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 handle this. “To make it easier on the advertising team, for example, we use Microsoft Shifts, which allows team members to know who they are every day, and allows a team member to copy to another member to cover a particular activity or task.”
“This is probably the most challenging way to ensure that others perform tasks when a person is looking for a client. We test teams and Asanas to overcome this and, where possible, automate processes in the company. “
5. Cutting out inefficiencies in tasks
Since teams don’t do work five days a week, they had to find ways to make more efficient use of the time they have.
Coming to a solution, they simplified their ticketing system for their product team, reduced meeting time from 1 hour to 30 minutes as a standard rule, and avoided double task handling.
Emily explained that the latter means that one person will represent each team that will be present at the meeting, instead of the whole team being there.
6. Informing clients about the new work culture
For companies that provide services to clients, it may seem difficult to apply anything other than a standard work culture 9-5.5 days a week. Not to mention, some clients can be demanding, even on company business days.
Emily said the Factory Commission made it very clear to its customers that it had reassured them at the same time. “We informed our clients through a video of our CEO explaining that this does not mean a reduction in service, nor regular fees and scheduled meetings held directly with clients.”
To maintain the quality of service, the Factory Commission teams had to structure and improve their service by improving internal collaboration.
So far, this strategy has worked well, as Emily shared that some of their clients have even contacted the team directly to seek support themselves in introducing similar initiatives.
– // –
Of course, employees can be happier and four-day work weeks are generally advertised to improve employee productivity and efficiency, but there must be appropriate measurable values.
For its sales team, Commission Factory measures how many meeting requests it sends to contacts, how many sales meetings and pitches the team helps, and more importantly, how many sales and how much revenue is delivered and more.
Emily shared that looking back at these metrics after the introduction of the four-day work week, they saw that the targets for all regions more than doubled over the same period last year, despite the reduction in working hours.
As far as I can see, although this change in work culture is significant, it is not as intimidating as it seems. Some Malaysian companies may fail with the same strategies, but trial and error can bring better solutions. Finally, the Commission Factory acknowledges that it is still early for them and that there will always be improvements.
Will we then see more companies practicing the four-day work week? Maybe not in a hurry, but with a large portion of the working population now accustomed to teleworking and WFH, it is possible that this concept will grow on us over time.
Credit for featured images: Factory commission