With school commencing last month across Australia, most of us are back at the nine till five, five days per week grind. It doesn't take long forget about our last holiday and make plans for the next one. I often hear friends and old colleagues say "weekends are never long enough" or "wouldn't it be great to have a three-day weekend all the time." Well, a four-day work week is slowly becoming a reality for some.
The Four-Day Week Global campaign announced a new international pilot program where companies are invited to give their workers a four-day week with no loss of pay for six months, to see if their business reaps the benefits of increased productivity from happier and healthier employees. The trials will begin in the UK in June, with Australian and New Zealand trials kicking off in August. Victorian unions are looking at how Iceland secured a shorter workweek. Whilst in the US, there is a bill in Congress for a shorter week as well. So why should organisations and governments adopt the four-day work week model?
Prior to the pandemic, the average Australian full-time employee worked around 42 hours per week. That’s 4.5 hours over the standard legal maximum, and is usually unpaid. Work hour limits need to change for better mental health and gender equality. Meanwhile, work is getting more intense. Surveys found that self-assessment of how hard we work per hour has increased significantly in the last 30 years. And all this work is taking a physical toll. The World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation found that in 2016 a 30% increase in deaths each year from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours since 2000. Shortening the work week could give exhausted workers a much needed rest.
Studies show organisations reap the benefit too. Stanford University researchers found overwork “leads to decreased total output” and that workers average productivity “decreases to the extent the additional hours they are working provide no benefit (and, in fact, are detrimental)”. UK researchers surveyed 250 businesses operating a four-day work week on full pay, and found they made annual savings of $175 billion. Almost two-thirds of businesses reported an increase in staff productivity and an improvement in the quality of work. Microsoft Japan’s four-day trial saw productivity jump 40%. New Zealand based company Perpetual Guardian’s trial saw “no drop in the total amount of work done”. Closer to home, Calibre switched to a four-day work week in June 2021, without reducing salaries and leave entitlements, which resulted in a better work-life balance, no productivity loss, richer company culture, and produced higher quality of work. Other companies report other benefits including environmental and cost saving benefits, fewer employee absences, and better recruitment and retention.
As the pandemic has changed the way we work and live, the desire to have a more meaningful life is on the increase, and companies around the world are realising the benefits. Some may argue that the four-day work week may not work for all industries, but there are ways around it. What if people could work a shorter day? Having a few extra hours a day can mean picking up the kids from school, being with the family, going for a walk, cooking a decent meal, or kicking up our feet and enjoying a good book. People would feel more rested to put in quality work the next day. Trying to fit your life in between work and the two day weekend is exhausting! At Blackmill, we work 32 hour weeks -- and one can choose to work four regular days or five shorter days. This approach aligns with our values and beliefs. An effort to put employees first should co-exist with a goal to be profitable, and should be the aim for the future of work, and living happier and healthier lives.
Elle and Lachlan didn't waste anytime upon returning to Oz and headed straight for the Adelaide Hills in South Australia to attend Rails Camp 2022. It was a fun filled weekend with friends and sliding down the Giant Tube Slide!
Because Elle and Lachlan were away at the end of 2021, our end of the year bookclub lunch got postponed for a few months. We finally had it last Friday!
Our Leading Engineering Teams workshop is designed to equip new leaders with the fundamental skills to be a technical leader, to build their confidence, and to promote self growth. We got a date for the next workshop set for May 23–26. Early bird tickets are available until the end of March.
After delivering the Leading Engineering Teams workshop many times and receiving countless feedback, we have put together a workshop that is going to help you become a better leader. A leader who helps their team be at their best. Our new workshop, Building Inclusive Teams (June 20–23) will address some of the most difficult challenges that all leaders face throughout their careers. This workshop is designed to help leads and managers progress onto the next stage of their leadership journey.
We also opened up a technical workshop on the topic of testing, called Test Driven Development with RSpec. In this workshop you will learn everything you need to know to start practicing TDD in your Ruby projects and become more comfortable writing tests. Dates for this workshop are set for June 6–9. Learn more about what this workshop covers on our website.
The Micropedia — an encyclopaedia of microagressions
The most common type of incompetent leader — being ignored by one’s boss is more alienating than being treated poorly. Absentee leadership creates employee stress, which can lead to poor employee health outcomes and talent drain, which then impact an organisation’s bottom line. Don’t underestimate the damage that an unskilled manager can cause
The real reason women leave tech (and how to address it) — a good basic overview of the various different reasons. And the article closes with some suggestions and action steps
Why are we so curious? — Evolution made us the ultimate learning machines, and the ultimate learning machines need a healthy dash of curiosity to help us take full advantage of this learning capacity.
I started a consultancy called Surrender to help founders shape brands and businesses that feel true to them, and to their values. I did that for many reasons; I wanted or rather needed to work with people, not organizations anymore and from a strategic standpoint, I knew that starting with founders' values would lead to more distinct value propositions. I was also convinced that giving founders the permission to embrace their personal values would yield to business ideas or brand concepts with a more positive impact. Overall I like that the methodology I developed is fostering honest relationships and business discussions.
I've been practicing sports, many different sports my whole life. I still exercise every day. Today I am very lucky to live near Lisbon and to be able to run, swim in the ocean, or surf weekly. I also do breathwork exercises every morning. I've experienced how being more in tune with my breath and physical sensations have helped me be better at my work, not just by soothing anxiety, but by helping me flag business tensions and bring new insights to the table thanks to that. Incorporating physical experiences into Surrender's methodology is in the plans for 2022.
I've just started to work with a client whose mission is to help large companies incorporate social actions into the core of their business. I've been working hard to position my consultancy and create content with my newsletter: Surrender Sundays that would pique the interest of such clients. So it's been exciting to see it happening, at least this time around.
Not following my intuitions. Every time I don't, I go straight into the wall or prevent myself from exploring exciting opportunities.
Getting my priorities straight in business has helped me reduce my stress, generally speaking. Open water swimming in a cold ocean helps me ground myself when I am too distracted. Running daily, more specifically getting out there in the morning and monitoring my performance, helps me feel potential and regain confidence when I start doubting myself.
Give yourself a chance to explore different ways to do your work, be with your colleagues, or run your business so you can enjoy it.
This is a loaded question. I am not sure I have an answer to that. But I find the Toltec Agreements to be a good starting point to healthier relationships with oneself and others.
To keep exploring new business practices that help make business more enjoyable and positive for myself, the people I work with, and everyone else who might be impacted. To start collaborating with more people to get there.
We are going to make these from Marie-Laure this weekend! A simple cardamom sables recipe that ML made up from a traditional sables recipe.
1 sachet of vanilla sugar (1 tsp/5g, or replace with vanilla extract)
2-3 spoons of cardamom powder (30-45g)
250g spelt flour
125g beurre (salted butter)
Mix the egg, sugar and vanilla sugar until the mix looks a little white and foamy
Add the flour, little by little, and mix
Add the butter* and intimately mix it with the other ingredients
Make a dough ball; if it looks a bit too buttery/ wet, you can add a bit of flour
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree celsius
Let the dough bowl rest for 15min in the fridge
Spread the dough with a rolling pin, cut out cookie shapes, and cook them in the oven for 20min
Let them rest (or not!) and eat them all!
*Butter should be soft but not melted - you can take it out of the fridge when you start the recipe
Here is the original recipe in French - https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_biscuits-sables-au-beurre_31237.aspx
Thank you for showing an interest in our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question, or just a recipe that you would like to share.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill