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The four-day workweek

Heidi Kalmár shares her positive experience with the four-day workweek in this article after nearly two years of following this schedule. She found that it significantly changed her and her husband's life for the better, leading to improved work-life balance, better mental and physical health, and a more fulfilling social life. Their stories encourage employers to consider implementing similar opportunities for their own employees, recognising the potential benefits that a healthy work-life balance and greater career development can bring to their organisation.
Heidi Kalmár

Head of Global Sales Enablement, Sastrify

Responding to a recession in the early 1990s, the public sector in the Netherlands began offering a four-day week to staff to save money. The four-day workweek has been gaining popularity in recent years also and for good reason. More and more people are realising that a shorter workweek can lead to greater productivity, better work-life balance, and improved mental health. I hope to raise awareness so that more companies will adopt this style of working. Employees should be given the opportunity to try this amazing approach to make a bigger impact.

As people who have been working a four-day workweek for nearly two years now, we can confirm the many benefits it offers. Here are just a few of the reasons why we love our four-day workweek:

I find myself much more productive

Since we have a shorter workweek, we feel more focused during working hours. We know we have less time to get everything done, so we tend to be more efficient and productive. This means that we can get more/the same done in four days than we used to in five, which is a great feeling & accomplishment. We've learned how to prioritise the hard way.

The Eisenhower Matrix is crucial which I’ve mentioned in my previous article

I am personally more strict with my meetings and plan my tasks better. Focusing on the bigger picture, what is not aligned with my current quarter KPIs, I delegate or drop to a later stage.

How to be more productive? First and foremost, be very strict with your time & calendar! My top tips for you before accepting any meeting: Make sure the invite has ALL four A's: 

Aim, Agenda, Attendees, Action Steps

  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
  • What is my role, and what will I contribute?
  • What is the agenda?
  • Is there another way (other than a meeting) to achieve the purpose and agenda? - Can this meeting be an email?
  • Is this meeting the best and most effective use of my time?
  • Is this meeting aligned with my goals & priorities?

Work-life Balance: Life outside of work

Before we switched to a four-day workweek, work was my entire life. I woke up with work and went to bed with work. The first and last thing I did each day was check my phone, which was a horrible habit. I felt like I only worked and slept, even eating at my desk. Eventually, I made myself pretty sick and had to be hospitalised. It was then that I realized I needed to rethink my life. Was it really worth it? It may sound harsh, but we are all replaceable at work. Do you think your family could ever replace you? Take care of yourself!

Now, we have a life outside of work that we are passionate about. We can both pursue our hobbies and interests, read those books, and take those long bike rides through the beautiful Dutch landscapes. We can spend time with loved ones and enjoy our free time without feeling guilty. 

I’ve also created a “safe place” for myself where I can focus on myself and enjoy the fresh air and nature around me. Yes, I am sometimes disturbed by cute meows, but that’s the best thing that can happen to me.