When new people join us at Meilisearch, we love the moment when they realize, "that was real!". We put a lot of emphasis on well-being at work during the recruitment process, and we are delighted to see that it is a tangible reality for our teams on a daily basis.
We are convinced that the well-being of our team members is a prerequisite for their performance at work. And for us, this doesn't mean office foosball, but two main axes: the balance between private and personal life and the daily application of our values (commitment, quality and simplicity, openness) to enhance the role of all our individual positions in the service of the collective.
It is in this context that we adopted the 4-day week in early 2020. We explain why, how, and what we get out of it.
In the beginning, there was confinement
Following the announcement of the first lockdown in France in March 2020, from days spent in a common space working, eating lunch, and taking our breaks together, we switched to 100% working remotely in our respective homes.
The organization of our work time changed radically: no more transportation time, fewer interruptions, more concentration. But also less break time, less informal discussions (which are also part of the work, let's not forget it), and days that had beginnings and ends that were less and less clear.
During this period our working days became longer in spite of ourselves, mainly because we no longer had the routine of arrivals and departures from the office to serve as a reference point.
We have always been very attentive to well-being at work, and naturally, a question arose: how do we keep our work from taking a further toll on an already bad enough situation? To remedy the fatigue that was beginning to grow, we switched to a 4-day week, without impacting our salaries.
How does this work in practice?
Although contractually nothing has changed, the members of Meili work in general from Monday to Thursday. The hours are not more important than if we had remained at a 5-day week.
Friday is a "free" day. There is no obligation to work, or not to work for that matter, which can be a good way to reduce the pressure we may have about our productivity. We don't ask anyone to indicate if they worked on a Friday. The only rules that exist are:
- No internal meetings can be scheduled on a Friday
- When requesting time off for one or more full weeks, Friday must be included in the request
A system based on trust
Not working on Fridays is more of a flexibility than a rule. We consider that everyone is responsible for their work organization and that each member of Meili must be free to use this day as they wish.
To put it plainly: if you feel that you have worked enough during the week, you do not work on Friday. If you are behind and haven't done everything you needed to do, then you have Friday to keep going.
This system assumes a relation of mutual trust. Each member must be honest and transparent about their workload and organization, make progress reports and alert their manager if they are overloaded. Conversely, the manager must be clear about their expectations and work objectives and be able to monitor their team without micromanaging.
The benefits for us
Since the first confinement in France, life has resumed its course but we have chosen to keep the 4-day week. First of all, because working remotely has definitely become part of our way of working (we are almost totally remote), but also because we have noticed that this has not affected our productivity, quite the contrary.
It is obvious that this initiative benefits a better life balance. For some, this day is dedicated to personal projects such as contributing to open source projects, for others it allows them to do more sports, to rest, to take care of their young children.
In short, the temporary adjustment we had put in place to address a specific problem worked so well that we adopted it permanently. The 4-day week is a very good way for us to encourage personal development and has given very good results at Meili. It is now part of our initiatives to promote well-being at work (we promise to tell you more about the rest of them very soon).