Munich based ECT stands out as a trailblazer testing a shorter working week

As the world has moved back to the office, many companies are addressing how to make this more appealing to their staff. A recent report from CNBC said that 92% of people supported the four-day working week and claimed employees felt "it would improve their mental health and productivity."

European Computer Telecoms AG (ECT) faced the same challenge as many others, looking to bring employees back on-site work after two years of mostly working from home – and wanted to ensure that employees were supportive.

After conducting an internal survey, ECT’s headquarters in Munich are piloting a four-day working week – a scheme that will run until the at least the end of the year.

The working week has been reduced from 40 hours to 32, Mondays to Thursdays, whilst existing salaries and 30 days’ vacation allowance have been maintained.

An ECT spokesperson said “We believe that this will help improve our work-life balance and quality of life. We expect that being happier will also increase our productivity.”

Focusing on customer demands during the trial, ECT sales and service subsidiaries in England, The Netherlands, and the USA will continue working and being available to customers on Fridays, but if the pilot is a success the scheme will be implemented permanently and may be extended to subsidiaries.

Going one step further means implementing processes other than just cutting hours. Periods of “deep work” have been added when staff deactivate all notifications and focus without interruption on the tasks at hand – and don’t hold meetings. And when meetings are held, they are deliberately shorter.

They have also introduced “deep rest time” with periodic long breaks so staff are refreshed and stay focused and productive.

To compensate for the reduced working time that results from the four-day week, ECT have added more than 20% more staff in new positions and are finding their unique proposition is helping to attract a higher calibre of talent from around the world.

Marshall Kavesh, ECT’s CEO. Said "A company is only as good as its employees," and went on to say “It is always difficult to attract and keep great talent, and a four-day week can be very appealing. Work is not just about money; most people value free time more."

We will watch the ECT experiment with interest, and would love to hear from you if you have your own back-to-work company policies that you would like to share.

PEOPLE AND CULTURE is one of the key tracks at this years’ Total Telecom Congress. Join us to discuss the future of company culture in London on the 1-2 November 2022