How We Serve Our Prospects Whereas Working a 4-Day Work Week

As with the remainder of the Buffer workforce, our Advocacy workforce was thrilled once we first experimented with a four-day work week in Could 2020. Distinctive to this workforce, although, was a little bit of wariness across the success of a four-day work week for a customer-facing workforce.

As an organization, Buffer has at all times had a excessive bar for buyer assist. We purpose to offer quick, private, and knowledgeable buyer assist responses 24 hours a day, seven days per week. We additionally assign one Advocate to each ticket so that every buyer will get a way of continuity with us. The factor about Advocacy is that even when we’re working one much less day per week, the incoming ticket quantity stays principally unchanged.

So how will we purpose to set the bar excessive once we’re working four-day work weeks?

We’ve tried a number of completely different setups and are fairly pleased with the place we’ve landed. Right here’s precisely the system we at present use to make a four-day work week work for our Buyer Advocacy workforce, together with a clear take a look at our workforce targets and metrics from the final 12 months of working a four-day work week.

How Advocacy is about up for a 4-day work week

Over time, the Advocacy workforce has finished a number of completely different rounds of summer Fridays, the place our teammates took half-days on Fridays for a month in the summertime. We discovered rather a lot from these, so we already had a framework for what the challenges and alternatives can be as we entered into the four-day work week.

Typically, a shorter work week is a good alternative for the Advocacy workforce to study and develop in a number of areas:

  • Communication: With a four-day work week, we’ve to have wonderful communication with a key deal with asynchronous communication.
  • Information administration: We already put a whole lot of effort into how we share data and doc our processes, and that is one other probability to enhance how we accomplish that.
  • Experimenting with time administration: It’s an opportunity to discover how we are able to work extra effectively every day, and the way we are able to higher handle our vitality.
  • Setting particular person targets: This was an excellent alternative to rethink particular person targets and provides the workforce clear goals to work in the direction of.

The place we began with the four-day work week

When the entire Buffer workforce first began working four-day work weeks, we gave every workforce at Buffer the liberty to decide on the day of the week to take off. The entire firm principally fell into two camps: Wednesdays or Fridays.

We already knew that selecting a constant day every week wouldn’t work for us on the Advocacy workforce as a result of we have to be accessible seven days per week for our prospects. Any day that we’ve no Advocates working, ticket quantity builds up, and prospects don’t get responses. There’s additionally an opportunity we miss a bug or problem with the Buffer product that comes via the inbox.

From the get-go, we knew we would want quite a lot of days off for various workforce members. Initially, we rotated days off, so teammates had been off on a distinct day each week, however there have been at all times some teammates on-line. We did this for the primary month, and it wasn’t a preferred possibility. First, there was far an excessive amount of admin work concerned to arrange this schedule; second, it was tough for Advocates to plan something when the day they had been offline was regularly rotating.

The system that works for our workforce

The schedule we’ve now could be the schedule we landed on in July 2020, three months into us adopting the four-day work week. We requested workforce members for his or her preferences for a time without work, and we attempt to comply with that as a lot as doable. Most people opted to have Friday off, some choose Monday off, and a smaller group takes off Wednesdays. Now, it’s constant each week, so we all know precisely who might be on-line every day of the week.

An essential a part of this technique for us was constructing it to optimize for most folk on the workforce to have the ability to take three days off in a row.  This work construction — 4 days on, three days off — might be actually replenishing, and we wished that for our workforce members.  

Additionally, it will probably get tough to have an ongoing dialog with a buyer for those who’re off one random day in the course of the week. We constructed the schedule with that in thoughts, although we’ve a number of workforce members who discover worth in taking Wednesdays off and we assist that. For almost all of the workforce, although, it’s Monday or Friday off.

How we handle weekends

As you may see within the above chart, we’ve buyer assist protection on the weekends as nicely. That’s one thing we’ve finished for the reason that early days of Buffer, and we rent a number of individuals particularly for weekend shifts. By default, they work one of many weekend days and never each, in order that they have one weekend time without work. The exception is that one teammate prefers to work Friday to Monday and have Tuesday to Thursday off.

For these taking weekend shifts, we nonetheless optimize for having three days off in a row to take care of the advantages of that added relaxation and sustaining flows for speaking with prospects.

Objectives and metrics and the 4-day work week

Typically, we set targets and measure our incoming quantity throughout seven days as a substitute of the 4 that every teammate is working. The problem for us is ensuring that, collectively, we’re as productive throughout these seven days with this new schedule. Actually, we struggled within the first six months with this; we did the very best that we might, however we didn’t have clear targets and we weren’t in a position to have clear expectations for elevated productiveness.

This 12 months, we’ve been way more clear with our targets, particularly round ticket-number targets to hit inside 4 days. That readability signifies that teammates can hit our response time targets and proceed to work a four-day work week. As with different groups at Buffer, Advocates even have the choice to work a partial or full fifth day of the week in the event that they really feel they haven’t been in a position to obtain what they got down to do in a given week. We name that fifth day an “overflow day.”

A take a look at our targets and the way they’ve advanced

Our two important targets for the Advocacy workforce have at all times been our response time to prospects and particular person ticket targets (what number of tickets an Advocate will get via in a day). These targets had been primarily based on what we thought had been reasonable targets for the workforce and for the extent of every particular person.

In Q1 of 2020 (earlier than we had been working a four-day work week), our purpose was to answer buyer emails inside six hours. We additionally had particular person ticket targets that had been primarily based on day by day quantity. Once we moved to four-day work weeks in Q2 of 2020, we applied new targets for tickets per day, however we didn’t tie these to the shopper expertise we wished to offer or set these primarily based on attaining the identical output in 4 days as a substitute of 5.

We ended up evolving our enterprise hours for providing buyer assist. At the start of our 4-day work week experiment, our enterprise hours had been Mondays at 3 am ET via Fridays at 8 pm ET — i.e. 24 hours a day in the course of the work week. To create extra constant expectations for our prospects, we modified our hours to be 6 am to eight pm ET every day, Monday via Friday.

Now in 2021, we’ve set bold firm and team-level OKRs (goals and key outcomes) round buyer response occasions and total service expertise. It’s essential to us that we don’t sacrifice buyer expertise for effectivity. We’ve aimed for a two-hour first response time, and subsequent replies despatched inside seven hours (for e mail tickets).

A number of outcomes to date in Q1 2021:

  • Our buyer satisfaction rating went from 92.3% in This fall 2020 to 94% this quarter.
  • We hit our purpose of a two-hour first response time, with a median of 1.6 hours throughout enterprise hours.
  • Our workforce despatched 71% of second responses inside seven hours (our purpose was 90%).

We have now additionally standardized our workforce targets for ticket replies despatched per week (148-170 tickets) and ticket high quality we count on from every particular person. These targets guarantee a stage of output we have to obtain our goals whereas having the ability to take that fifth time without work.

Parting ideas

We’re proud that we’ve been in a position to enhance our buyer response occasions and expertise in 2021 whereas working a four-day work week. Even with that, we all know there may be nonetheless room to evolve what a four-day work week seems to be like for our workforce.

The discount of hours accessible throughout a worldwide workforce means we’re at occasions a bit in need of fingers once we’re impacted by exterior components comparable to third-party downtime or points with APIs. While we would be capable to get the identical quantity of tickets finished in 4 days as 5, there may be at all times going to be worth in being accessible on particular days and occasions inside the world of buyer assist.

As a workforce, we’re persevering with to debate how we are able to embrace a bit extra flexibility round protection in our technique for the longer term.

Do you’re employed on a buyer assist workforce that has four-day work weeks? Or do you’ve extra questions on how we method a four-day work week? Drop us a tweet! You could simply hear from one in every of our Buyer Advocates.

Photograph by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Michael Evans

Professional writer, editor, and producer with over a decade of experience. I'm an experienced editor who has written for a variety of publications, and I specialize in editing non-fiction articles, news, and business blogs.

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