Business has never been better and employees have never been happier and more productive, says Swash Labs founder
DENTON, Texas – A year ago, WFAA introduced you to Josh Berthume, who led the 12-person Denton advertising firm Swash Labs to a 4-day work week.
After that, other reporters call to interview him, and academics call to learn about his workplace model. The story has received many views and likes.
Surprisingly, it was also met with some hate on social media.
Berthume said most of the reaction to his advocacy of the 4-day work week has been overwhelmingly positive, but some people who have commented have been negative and skeptical of the actions his business is taking.
“I was surprised at how negatively people reacted to something like this,” he said.
People trolling on social media couldn’t believe that a company would actually cut the work week without any problems. They angrily took to social media platforms to question whether Swash Labs was forcing workers to work longer days in exchange for fewer days, or whether the company cut workers’ wages or benefits in return.
So, to be clear, Bethume emphasizes: “We work 32 hours a week. And we made this change without any reduction in salary or benefits to anyone.”
A year later…
A year after WFAA contacted Berthume about the big change, he has great news to share: “Our productivity is up, and last year was the best year we’ve had.”
The company has grown, but what is the result for the employees? Well, Berthume said, because they work four days a week and there’s no commuting because they’re completely remote, “We gave our employees essentially 28 days a year…like full days.” ”
Berthume said it has changed morally significantly.
“I see it in my people. If you think about how a normal work week goes, there is a drag at the beginning and a drag at the end. And… if it’s not burnout, it’s exhaustion from dealing with the structure of a job where you work 40, 50, 60 hours a week,” Bethume said.
“And then you have to have a life. You have to be a whole person outside of work. The response from the people who work at Swash Labs is that I have time to do these other things.”
After her story was published last year, Berthume heard from many people who wanted to work for her. He said it wasn’t just because a 4-day work week sounded like heaven.
“A lot of them were problems that came out in the open: ‘I have to work, my husband has to work, and we can’t afford childcare.’ Or, ‘I want to work, I’m talented and I can do it, and I don’t have a car, so I have to work remotely,'” Berthume said.
The thing is, Berthume didn’t have room to bring people on board, as Swash Labs says it’s not experiencing a “Great Resignation.”
“Our turnover is almost zero,” he said.
Biggest Challenge and ‘Unexpected Bonus’
Although Berthume is happy with how things are going, he said there are major challenges when taking a day out of each employee’s schedule. Some workers are off from Saturday to Monday, while others are off from Friday to Sunday, with the biggest obstacle emerging from Tuesday to Thursday.
In the middle of the week, the meeting intensified for three days, since everyone worked on those days.
But this challenge opened up a whole new way of thinking.
“It made us think…does everyone have to be at this meeting that we’ve become accustomed to? And is it necessary for such a long time? Should our standard meetings be one hour? Or maybe half an hour? And we know these meetings are half an hour, can we reduce them to 15 minutes?
Berthume said that paying close attention to all of this helped reduce and speed up meetings, creating new efficiencies.
Some other companies are also seriously rethinking the value of meetings. We’ll see how people react to Berthume’s latest workplace goal.