Forex and CFD broker TIOmarkets recently became the first company to adopt a four-day work week in Cyprus, charting a bold new course in a traditionally more constrained environment.
The move comes on the heels of similar shifts abroad, with trials of a four-day work week in Iceland seeing workers report less stress and a reduced risk of burnout, and with no apparent toll on their productivity.
Employees in the Nordic country went from working 40 hours a week to 35-36 hours a week, even as their pay and annual leave remained the same.
Dubbed an overwhelming success, the scheme has since led to changes in working hours for as many as 86 per cent of the Icelandic population.
Meanwhile, back on Cyprus shores, TIOmarket employees are reaping similar benefits. So, how did the Limassol firm get the four-day work week so right? We put the questions to the company’s CMO Helen Astaniou.
Why did TIOmarkets shift to a four-day work week in the first place?
“The most compelling reason was to achieve efficiency.
“My CEO wanted to find innovative ways to increase efficiency and output for the business whilst giving the staff corps a greater work-life balance. By giving the staff an extra day a week to rest, he hoped to make them super-motivated and super-efficient.
“We didn’t reduce work hours; at first when we launched this, people were worried that they would have to work much more – that they would be working five days within the four-day period, with no change in compensation or annual leave.
“But TIOmarkets knew that, for this to work, we had to resource teams. Today, we’re recruiting, to make the team stronger, so that the company can sustain many people being away on one day and continue its level of growth without any drop in achievement or performance.
“Most people would imagine that a shorter work week would draw opposition from employers, but initial reservations came from employees themselves. They were worried about how they would still be able to meet their goals and targets; how to be efficient and productive in four fifths of the time.
“From my perspective as a working mother, I was just delighted to have the opportunity of an extra day with my kids.
What was the impact of your four-day work week on customer experience?
“We piloted it for one month. It was totally unknown, there is no culture for this kind of work, so we proceeded cautiously. We tried different things, we changed slightly to optimise the way teams work. For example, the client support team: they can’t all be out at the same time. So, they are staggering their work days. Our clients have experienced no delays or slower service – it’s been flawless from their side.
“The biggest change internally was to up-staff; we needed skilled and capable staff to continue the upward curve.”
What was your employees’ experience of the four-day work week?
“The impact in terms of employees has been great. I see and ‘feel’ smiles in the office, and much greater motivation and loyalty. One person even told me: I want to stay here forever. These are people who have families, or who don’t have families but now have breathing time in the chaos of their lives; you can’t put a price on that.”
A report by the 4 Day Week campaign found that shifting to four days without loss of pay could shrink the UK’s carbon footprint by 21.3 per cent, per year, by 2025. What would you say the environmental impact of TIOmarkets’ four-day work week has been?
“Tiomarkets has different ways in helping with the incredible climate warming – for instance, by recycling. We do whatever we can, within our means. With regards to measuring carbon emission, all our resources are focused in other areas at the moment. However, we are confident in the positive impact of fewer people coming to work.”
How will you know if your new work week is a success?
“As a company, as much as we love the people who work here, ultimately, this is a business. We have wages to pay, we have targets to meet, so success is always in the performance of the company, according to various metrics – and the bottom line. Do we have good customer satisfaction? Is our customers’ journey, when they sign up with us, a good one? What we have seen up to now is that there is no lag in the uptick.”