13 months ago, JD and I implemented a policy that was radically different from most other software development companies.
For a long time, we were like most other companies and our entire team worked the typical 5 day work week. We did have 25 vacation days, 12 sick days and all the national holidays off each year but as Spiral Scout grew into a larger software development company, we wanted something that would make us stand out from other software development companies in San Francisco
and the world and would do something to protect our team’s mental health.
I was out one night enjoying a few quiet pints with a good buddy, Kevin, and our conversation drifted to work. I told him I had been thinking about the ways I wanted to make Spiral Scout different, what benefits we were planning to provide to our team and the culture I wanted to foster. Kevin explained to me the benefits his company offered and that for three months during the summer, half his company had every other Fridays off. And just like how a few pints can change your thought process, I loved how the idea worked but wondered why just do this in the summers. Why not do the entire year?
So the following week, after discussing with JD, we told half our software development team to stay home, with pay, on one Friday and then the other half of the team was told to stay home, with pay, on the following Friday. This wasn’t a “work from home” flexible Friday. It was a “do whatever you want that makes you happy, recharges your batteries, and forget about work for a day”. Friyay or My Friday was our version of the Friday off.
Not one company does this in Belarus where our main R&D offices are. And only a handful, if that, do this in the United States.
At first, I don’t think JD, the team or I quite understood how this change would affect our company but when the first Friday came around, half the team didn’t show up and no one has raised a hand questioning it since 🙂
Friyays as a company-wide policy
Our main policy goal was to foster a company culture
that truly cared about our team, respected their personal lives/health and offered them true work-life balance. This we hoped would create a number of positive effects, company differentiators and help us to ultimately attract the best talent to join Spiral Scout and keep them happy working with us.
The single day off every ten days and the creation of a three day weekend actually boosted the productivity of our 55 person team. From a business prospective, we’ve seen revenue almost triple (to be fair we have grown in size), margins improve and productive, billable hours tick up even with the one less day. From a personal level, it’s noticeable the improvement in the overall company happiness (we’ve always prided ourselves on being a happy bunch but….), less sick days recorded and employee retention hit basically 96% which is so important for our clients business since they have the same, reliable faces working on their software for a long time. As a team, we were getting more done in less time and doing it while being ultra-focused.
As co-founders, JD and I have noticed the team is more motivated and they have found new ways to increase their productivity because they work one day less. They stay focused longer and work harder during the time they are at work. A number of clients have told us that they notice the team’s output go up based on the number of tasks that are completed each week and the amount of time it takes to get the work done. They have reported to us being more satisfied with the performance and overall communication.
We asked our team after the first year of Friyay’s to get a sense for how it had impacted their lives and got some interesting answers in return:
“I have a young child. As a parent, I love to devote as much of my time to her. The Friyay off gives me that opportunity.”
“Great opportunity for me to do my open-source projects and self-education”
“Solves the problems that I can’t do on Saturday or Sunday”
“I built a Russian sauna near my country house”
“More opportunities to travel or rest when I want to”
“I feel more energetic after using the 3 day weekends to refresh my mind”
“It was a considerable benefit I weighed when I decided to change from my job and come to Spiral Scout”
“Friyays are something that makes Spiral Scout a unique company in Belarus”
It is great for us to hear that team members were able to spend more time with their families, traveling, exercising, working on their personal projects or even building a sauna. From all the feedback, they are now living a more balanced, fulfilling and productive work life. JD and I both recognized that the day off was an important investment into the people that build the reputation of our company and the great products for our clients. It has become a major goal for us to constantly take amazing care of the people on our team because it is the right thing to do and it is what we want our company to be known for.
Without the team being at their best, we are just another software development company among many.