Odessa Jenkins was the president EmtrainA startup tech company in San Francisco with 75 employees had an innovative idea last year after they noticed an unusual amount of exhaustion, stress, and fatigue among their employees during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The email she sent to her pitching a four-day workweek was not intended for managers.
Everyone understood the message. So, the shorter workweek was in place. The sky didn’t fall.
“I think that we forget that sometimes as business operators, that we have the power to make change, frankly, the power to make mistakes,”She spoke. “We wanted them to have more flexibility. We trusted them. It’s worked out tremendously.”
She says Emtrain has been the most productive company in its financial history since then. They exceed all of their business goals. They are experiencing the lowest attrition rates in their history. According to her, workers report feeling happier, and less stressed.
However, there were some issues with the schedule.
Employees work different shifts at different times. A client or potential client may send a message on Friday. Someone will respond. IT will be required to respond if an app is experiencing problems on Sunday.
“Even though our doors might not be open, our business is technically always available for a client,”She spoke. “I think every business has a little bit of gray. It’s like, ‘How far do you go with customer service?'”
Jenkins stated that she is not certain what Emtrain’s future work schedule will look, but that her employees have proven they are capable of being productive.
“People want to move in the world differently,”She spoke. “They want to do more of what matters to them. And we need to start realizing that and making space for them.”
She supports a California bill that would have allowed for a 32-hour workweek. Two California legislators introduced a bill in February. Assembly Bill 2932. This bill would shorten the workweek from 40 to 32 hours for companies with more than 500 employees and it would make employers pay overtime to those who work more than four days a week.
“I believe that there’s going to have to be some flexibility in what we’re asking business owners to do. Just like the five and 40 isn’t hard and fast, nothing else can be hard and fast,”She stated. “I believe that we should be guided towards something more flexible, regardless of whether it is legislation or not.
“I think that when we’re talking about these things we are frankly just talking about humans having more of what they deserve to have and that’s peace, that’s love, that’s engaging with their families and friends.”
“This is really important to me … us taking care of our people in the workplace and, frankly, giving them more time. The world is asking for this.”