4-day working week

by Sam Smith

Starting in June this year we at Pressure Drop will be taking part in a nationwide trial of working a 4-day week. Each full-time employee will work 4 days each week instead of 5, with no loss of pay. The aim is to use productivity rather than hours worked as the key metric for the working week. The trial uses what is called the 100-80-100 model – 100% of the productivity, 80% of the hours, 100% of the pay. The national trial is organised by 4-Day-Week Global and will run alongside similar trials around the world. It follows many successful trials in different institutions and countries, which have consistently demonstrated no loss of productivity (and in some cases increased productivity) alongside significant benefits in terms of employee well-being, productivity, engagement, retention, environmental effects, parental time, and others. 

It's fair to say that everyone's well-being has been tested in recent years. The future holds many challenges. Everyone in the world is going to have to change the way they live, the way they work, and the way that their communities and societies are organised. In the absence of meaningful progressive solutions from above, change must come from below, in ways that we can affect or control.

When we started Pressure Drop almost ten years ago now, we wanted to create a workplace for ourselves with a natural level of balance, which others could join, doing something that was both constructive and worthwhile. We wanted our work to produce something we could be proud of.

Brewing, packaging and selling beer was, and is, in many ways a simple life. There are periods of intense work, and other times when we must wait, and, as the cliché has it, let the yeast do the work.

We’ve never been the kind of brewery to crank the maximum possible from our kit by brewing multiple times in one day. We didn’t want our workplace to be one in which people started work at 4am, or finished work at midnight, with irregular shift times and patterns of sleep. We expanded into our current Tottenham site in 2017, building a larger brewhouse and taproom than the small railway arch brewery we started out in, but we never wanted relentless expansion to be our model. Endless growth is something we are taught is desirable for a business, but that cannot work if everyone is trying to do the same thing. There has to be a place for a small business to remain small. Today we’re a team of 9 full-time employees, of whom 8 work at the brewery. We did not, and do not, want to take over the world.

For these reasons, we think we’re a good fit for the 4-Day Week trial. We understand that as a manufacturing company, who makes and ships a physical product, and provides customer service alongside that, there will be challenges for us that are not faced in the same way by many other companies which enjoy greater flexibility around work location and timing. We hope that our progress as a brewery will be a source of keen interest for the experts and researchers supporting the trial, as well as to others in the beer industry. We also look forward to their help in overcoming these obstacles, while accepting that ultimately the solutions must come from within our own team.

With the changes we have faced and the challenges that still lie ahead of us, it seems like a good time to try new things. We want to find alternative ways of working that will have a positive impact on our team and our brewery. We want to be part of a positive change in society and the world. If we succeed, then maybe others will follow, and we can look ahead to the next challenge, with the energy and breathing space to meet it.

Sam Smith, Co-Founder