Brand & Business: Homonym reflects on its decision to implement 4 day workweeks

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Homonym Philippines, the nation’s premier music-first agency, has always given importance to the wellbeing of its employees. As musicians, founders Mike and Christel Constantino have done away with the “tortured artist” stereotype. Understanding the importance of work-life balance themselves, they continue to make decisions that are considerate of their team’s physical and mental health. 

In line with this, Homonym has recently made a move that many still consider unorthodox despite the research that supports it. On Labor Day, the company announced the start of their four-day workweeks as a team. They made this decision known through a social media post that was accompanied by the hashtags #MusicFirst, #WellnessFirst, and #LongWeekendsForever

In this exclusive interview, adobo Magazine sat down with Mike to learn more about their new four-day workweek.


 

Hi Mike! Tell us, how did this idea come about? 

It was a combination of realizations. Our team had been working doubly hard during this lockdown, yet our efforts didn’t necessarily result in doubled outcomes. The challenges due to the pandemic restrictions have really affected our clients and partners in the music and advertising industry, and therefore us as well. Then I read an article about the benefits of 4-day workweeks and decided to gradually try it. 

For about 6-7 Thursdays, I begged off from meetings to see if I could still deliver everything needed – at the same time, I recorded how my wellbeing was. I then started shortening our typically 2-hour internal meetings to 1 hour or less (“oh, my preggy wife needs me!”), discovering that the extra hours were gold in terms of added work and personal time! I shared these results with the team and the vote to implement 4-day workweeks was unanimous. We implemented Fridays off all of April to test it, and after a month of positive reviews and still-delivered results, we made it official and announced our 4-day workweeks.

We see. What about the work hours you follow now? 

Previously, we did 10 am to about 5:30 pm. Now, we do 9:30 am to 6 pm. There’s the occasional early morning meeting due to time differences, but we don’t mind adjusting a little as long as we get that day off. We can also work Fridays if we really need to, as we understand it takes some time for our partners to also adjust, and there are some projects that warrant it. But generally, there are no internal meetings and barely any activity in our threads and chats on Fridays.

Do you offer the same salary and compensation to employees? 

Yes, less days doesn’t mean less pay.  As long as everything is delivered within our standard of excellence, and as long as our partners are happy, we’re good. It’s important for us to let our people know that we choose their well-being over making money, and initiatives like this make that crystal clear.  We’re proud to say that everyone has had full pay since the pandemic started; we know our people need it the most these days and we gladly give it to them despite the obvious challenges.

Now that your team’s workdays have been reduced, is the same amount of tasks and workload still expected from them?

Yes. We’re managing our time more efficiently now, but we’re still learning as we go along. We’ve assigned a Mancom composed of department leads to spread out approvals – aside from taking the load off upper management, this gives our next-in-lines more responsibility. This means faster decision-making on costings, ideation, etc., and it’s a huge help in freeing up more time for everyone.

In implementing four-day workweeks, what is your metric for success— employee satisfaction or employee productivity?  

For us, it’s still about delivering excellently, and not necessarily about the amount of time we spend at work. The morale and energy have most definitely been up since April. We all look forward to Fridays and get to do our personal passions again. We also get to spend a lot more time with our families. Thursday nights now serve as our weekend, and we hang out with each other via e-numans and game nights. 

In terms of productivity, it might be too early to tell but we all seem more fresh, motivated, and chatty during our weekly Monday morning internals.

This is great to hear! Considering all these changes, how do you monitor customer satisfaction and client needs? 

So far, our clients and partners have been very supportive of this move and are even apologetic whenever they have to message us on Fridays. They understand what our industry is going through, and they are happy to work around these experiments amidst these unprecedented times. One of our biggest clients even recently implemented a No Zoom Thursdays rule so it looks like it’s catching on!

We did get some comments on Facebook saying that we’re in the wrong industry (music) to implement 4-day workweeks. Our response: maybe it’s the industry that’s wrong, not us? Once gigs and prods are up and running again, we will re-evaluate and see how it goes but for now, it’s working for us. 

Perhaps you should try it too? 

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