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

As an organization, Buffer has all the time had a excessive bar for buyer help. We purpose to offer quick, private, and knowledgeable buyer help responses 24 hours a day, seven days every 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 largely unchanged.

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

We’ve tried a number of totally 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 crew, together with a clear take a look at our crew 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

Through the years, the Advocacy crew has achieved just a few totally different rounds of summer Fridays, the place our teammates took half-days on Fridays for a month in the summertime. We discovered quite a bit from these, so we already had a framework for what the challenges and alternatives could be as we entered into the four-day work week.

Normally, a shorter work week is a superb alternative for the Advocacy crew 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 give attention to asynchronous communication.
  • Information administration: We already put plenty of effort into how we share information and doc our processes, and that is one other likelihood to enhance how we accomplish that.
  • Experimenting with time administration: It’s an opportunity to discover how we will work extra effectively every day, and the way we will higher handle our power.
  • Setting particular person targets: This was an important alternative to rethink particular person targets and provides the crew clear aims to work in the direction of.

The place we began with the four-day work week

When the entire Buffer crew first began working four-day work weeks, we gave every crew at Buffer the liberty to decide on the day of the week to take off. The entire firm largely 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 crew as a result of we must be accessible seven days every 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 challenge 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 crew members. Initially, we rotated days off, so teammates have been off on a special day each week, however there have been all the time some teammates on-line. We did this for the primary month, and it wasn’t a preferred choice. First, there was far an excessive amount of admin work concerned to arrange this schedule; second, it was difficult for Advocates to plan something when the day they have been offline was regularly rotating.

The system that works for our crew

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 crew members for his or her preferences for a time off, and we attempt to observe 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 will likely be on-line every day of the week.

An vital a part of this method for us was constructing it to optimize for most people on the crew 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 needed that for our crew members.  

Additionally, it will probably get difficult to have an ongoing dialog with a buyer if you happen to’re off one random day in the course of the week. We constructed the schedule with that in thoughts, although we’ve just a few crew members who discover worth in taking Wednesdays off and we help that. For almost all of the crew, although, it’s Monday or Friday off.

How we handle weekends

As you may see within the above chart, we’ve buyer help protection on the weekends as effectively. That’s one thing we’ve achieved for the reason that early days of Buffer, and we rent just a few 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 off. 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.

Targets and metrics and the 4-day work week

Normally, 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. Truthfully, we struggled within the first six months with this; we did the perfect that we might, however we didn’t have clear targets and we weren’t capable of have clear expectations for elevated productiveness.

This 12 months, we’ve been rather more clear with our targets, particularly round ticket-number targets to hit inside 4 days. That readability implies 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 capable of 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 developed

Our two most important targets for the Advocacy crew have all the time 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 have been based mostly on what we thought have been real looking targets for the crew and for the extent of every particular person.

In Q1 of 2020 (earlier than we have been working a four-day work week), our objective was to reply to buyer emails inside six hours. We additionally had particular person ticket targets that have been based mostly on every day quantity. After we moved to four-day work weeks in Q2 of 2020, we carried out new targets for tickets per day, however we didn’t tie these to the client expertise we needed to offer or set these based mostly on attaining the identical output in 4 days as a substitute of 5.

We ended up evolving our enterprise hours for providing buyer help. Firstly of our 4-day work week experiment, our enterprise hours have been Mondays at 3 am ET via Fridays at 8 pm ET — i.e. 24 hours a day throughout 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 (aims and key outcomes) round buyer response instances and general service expertise. It’s vital 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 couple of outcomes thus far in Q1 2021:

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

Now we have additionally standardized our crew 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 aims whereas having the ability to take that fifth time off.

Parting ideas

We’re proud that we’ve been capable of enhance our buyer response instances 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 like for our crew.

The discount of hours accessible throughout a worldwide crew means we’re at instances a bit wanting palms after we’re impacted by exterior elements comparable to third-party downtime or points with APIs. While we would be capable to get the identical quantity of tickets achieved in 4 days as 5, there may be all the time going to be worth in being accessible on particular days and instances inside the world of buyer help.

As a crew, we’re persevering with to debate how we will embrace a bit extra flexibility round protection in our technique for the long run.

Do you’re employed on a buyer help crew that has four-day work weeks? Or do you will have extra questions on how we method a four-day work week? Drop us a tweet! Chances are you’ll simply hear from one among our Buyer Advocates.

Photograph by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash