One year with Work Away Wednesdays - How it’s going

One year ago we took a plunge in the deep end, when we introduced Work Away Wednesday, allowing employees to work wherever and whenever they wanted every Wednesday. Now, one year later, we evaluate and the results are staggering.

The Work Away Wednesday-concept is quite simple. Every Wednesday all Adapt-employees can work from wherever they prefer - from home, a café, the office etc. Furthermore, how to administer the work hours is completely optional and the day is kept meeting-free. The decision, by Adapt management, to introduce the Work Away Wednesday-concept was forged from a desire to create a more flexible and balanced work life and an overall mission to create the best possible workplace.

In the following we reflect on our learnings and experiences one year into the Work Away Wednesday era.

Employee Approval

With all the humility in the world, it is safe to say that Work Away Wednesdays as a concept has been a success. In a recent and internal survey, answered by 65% of the Adapt-employees, the concept as a whole scores a whopping 9,1 on a 1-10-scale. Needless to say, this is hugely important as the WAW-concept is launched in an effort to create better work-life balance.

Freedom and flexibility is key

Unsurprisingly, in said survey, the freedom and flexibility which entails from a concept like WAW gets high praise. As one employee puts it in the survey, when asked what is most appreciated about WAW. “The flexibility. Life in all aspects happens from 9-17, Also the places we need to go, shops, mechanics, doctors and so forth, so it’s nice to have a regular day, where you can schedule that sort of thing and then work into the night if need be.”

This quote very much encapsulates the whole purpose of WAW. To, at least once a week, give employees the freedom and flexibility to plan their work life around their private life instead of the other way around, which very much seems to be the widespread standard. Furthermore, and this is important, the existence of WAW does not prevent employees from working from home other days of the week if they feel the need. WAW merely ensures that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect.

Meeting free(dom)
In the aforementioned survey, it is mentioned time and time again, that the greatest thing about WAW is the no meetings policy. Being able to keep the day free of meetings, not only enables employees to schedule doctors appointments, grocery shopping and the like, it also frees up time to work-related self-study and solving complex tasks, demanding the utmost and undivided attention. “Focus, Focus, Focus. I can get in the zone and blast out high-quality work. No meetings are a big part of that. Being at the office feels like the work days during Christmas. It is all so silent and neat.” Anonymous Adapt-employee.

Working on such, for the most part, complex projects, it is paramount to give our specialists time to really dive into tasks with meticulous attention to detail. Interestingly, when we launched WAW, we did not anticipate the no-meetings policy to be so important to employees. Rather, we expected other aspects of WAW - e.g working from home and the open schedule to be the most popular.

Fall pits and pains to watch out for

So, is WAW a success? By all accounts, yes. We are comfortable making that conclusion. Has it been completely problem-free. No, not at all. If you are looking to take similar steps in your workplace, here’s some advice from us.

Discipline is important. Here, we are not referring to your employees’ work discipline, when given more freedom. That was never the issue here. No, what we are referring to is the discipline to not book meetings on, in this case, Wednesdays. It is tempting, when calendars are full and all that blank Wednesday-space is just screaming at you. It can easily become a slippery slope and we have had to emphasize across the organization that Wednesday is meeting-free a few times. Does this mean that no one from Adapt has Wednesday meetings? Ever? It happens occasionally, but for the most part we actually succeed.

If you, like us, have clients, make sure to align with them, so they are aware of initiatives like this. Our experience is that clients have full understanding and we have had no issues in this regard. Don’t neglect the fact that it is very much in the client's interest that the specialists they pay for have time to dedicate time and attention to the tasks.

Before we get all too excited about how great a concept WAW is, let’s also dwell a little bit on some of the down sides. It can cause some problems when your colleagues and team members are not necessarily placing their work hours in the same timeframe as you. As one Adapt employee mentions “Sometimes, It just seems like people become unavailable”. Increased response and feedback time. Waiting for a handover from a colleague who opted to work outside 9-17, seems like an inevitable trade-off that you have to make. To counter this everyone in Adapt is encouraged to plan accordingly, so feedback, hand-overs and what not is given before Wednesday, so no one is held back by lack of information.

We feel that our journey with WAW is only just starting and we are looking to refine it continuously.It works pretty well now, but surely we can improve further and in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

In drawing things to a close, we would recommend pretty much anyone to implement WAW or similar concepts, if you possibly can without hurting your business significantly. It has simply had a positive effect on Adapt as a whole. As expressed by Managing Director Rikke Frelle, “Simplified, we have two overall end-goals. To create world-class digital products and to be the best possible workplace for our employees. The latter is the reason we threw ourselves into what at the time seemed like a daring and radical experiment. Looking back now, having just celebrated Work Away Wednesdays’ one-year anniversary, it turns out it was completely safe and we also discovered that it actually affects the first goal positively.” 

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