Everyone at Vulcan Post Malaysia has been mostly WFH for over a year (with a brief return to the office June through October 2020) and this is the norm today for many other businesses with employees who can work remotely.
Commission Factory, an Australia-based affiliate marketing network, is one of those companies. Aside from promoting remote working, they have been running a four-day work week in their Malaysian office since December 2020.
According to them, they saw a 200% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2021 since this new work culture was introduced, along with reports of a happier workforce.
The four-day work week is nothing new. Reports from some companies around the world picked them up around 2019 after Microsoft announced Japan would be practicing them. In Malaysia, however, we have hardly seen this trend so far.
How does Commission Factory do it and can it be replicated by other Malaysian companies?
1. It's not a compressed schedule
One of the drawbacks that are often brought up with mentioning a 4 day work week is that it compresses 5 work days into just 4 days.
This could lead to employees being overworked. To avoid this, Commission Factory Marketing Manager Emily told Vulcan Post that her 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 doesn't that mean that less work is being done overall? Well, maybe not, as it has been found that employees can waste 1-3 hours on average in an 8-hour workday (excluding lunch and breaks). So it is possible that the job could be done in less time by saving those extra, wasted hours.
2. Employees can choose their own day off
“We don't set the days, but we change the days on which employees are free between the different teams, as most of them want to have Monday or Friday off. We have a rota to make sure everyone has a Friday or Monday off, ”said Emily.
She added, “All assigned days will be signed off by the team leaders and updated on our team schedule for visibility. We have a buddy system when one person is not around so one of the other team members can cover them up for their day. ”
The vacation structure at Commission Factory also remains unchanged, as if the employees had worked 5 days a week. At the same time, Commission Factory stressed to the employees that this step would not mean a wage cut.
3. Giving employees the right tools
To simplify their new work culture, Commission Factory uses project management tools like Asana and Microsoft Planner to assign work and increase transparency and visibility. This also became common with the WFH and the remote work culture.
At the same time, the team built an in-house knowledge hub that contained zoom recordings of meetings for employees to watch and catch up on, and continually found more resources to help them.
4th Timely and optimized communication
In the Commission Factory, the teams do not only deal with a four-day working week. The company has teams in 15 countries. Time zones are therefore another challenge.
Emily gave an example of how they deal with it. "To make this easier on the advertiser team, we use Microsoft Shifts, for example. This way, team members can know who is present each day and the team member can copy another member to cover a specific activity or task."
“This is probably the biggest challenge in ensuring that tasks are done by others when someone is on the road for a customer. We're testing Teams and Asana to overcome this and automate processes across the company where possible. "
5. Eliminate inefficiencies in tasks
With teams not doing 5 days of work in a week, they had to find ways to use the time they have more efficiently.
When developing solutions, they optimized their ticketing system for their product team, reduced the standard meeting times from 1 hour to 30 minutes and avoided double processing of tasks.
Emily explained that the latter meant that one person would represent each team that was present at a meeting, rather than the entire team being there.
6th Inform customers about the new work culture
For companies serving customers, it can be difficult to implement anything other than the standard 9-5 5 days a week work culture. Not to mention, some customers can have high demands even on company days off.
Emily said Commission Factory made their shift very clear to their customers while reassuring them at the same time. "We informed our customers with a video from our CEO, in which it was stated that this does not directly mean a reduction in service or the regular catch-up and scheduled meetings with customers."
Instead, to maintain the quality of service, the Commission Factory teams had to structure themselves and improve their service by improving internal collaboration.
So far, this strategy has worked well, as Emily shared that some of her own clients have even reached out to the team directly for assistance in rolling out similar initiatives themselves.
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Of course, employees can be happier, and 4-day workweek is generally touted to improve employee productivity and efficiency. However, suitable metrics must be available.
For the sales team, Commission Factory measures how many meeting requests are sent to contacts, how many sales meetings and pitches are supported by the team, and more importantly, how many sales and how much revenue, and more.
Emily said that looking back at these metrics after introducing the four-day work week, they found that targets for all regions more than doubled year-over-year despite the reduction in work hours.
As far as I can see, this shift in work culture is significant, but not as daunting as it seems. Some Malaysian companies may not be able to come up with the exact same strategies, but trial and error can lead to more appropriate solutions. Finally, Commission Factory admits that it's early days for them too, and that there will always be improvements.
Will we then see more companies practicing 4-day workweek? Perhaps not in an upswing, but with a large part of the working population now more used to remote work and WFH, it is possible that this concept will come our way at some point.
- More information about Commission Factory can be found here.
- You can find more work-related articles here.
Selected image source: Commission Factory