Four days a week in Franz Rönnau a success

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In: Wiebke Huck


In the workshop: company boss Marie-Antoinette Schleier and master metalworker Frederik Smerling.  The company worked only four days a week for a year.
In the workshop: company boss Marie-Antoinette Schleier and master metalworker Frederik Smerling. The company worked only four days a week for a year. © Wiebke Huck

A long weekend of three days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday off – which makes the week 4 days possible. While the model has been successfully implemented in Sweden for years, it is not yet widespread in Germany.

Hessisch Lichtenau – But more and more countries follow suit. In February, the Belgian government decided to introduce a 4-day week and Spain and Iceland are currently testing the concept. In Hessisch Lichtenau, the metal construction company Franz Rönnau has not worked on Fridays for a year. Company boss Marie-Antoinette Schleier recognized the advantages of the 4-day week early in: satisfied and efficient employees. One of them is master metal worker Frederik Smerling. The 31-year-old said he was initially skeptical that the concept would work. “My colleagues and I did not think that in the future we could do what we originally did in five days in just four days,” he said. The model was invented by Marie-Antoinette Schleier envisaging that her employees work an extra hour from Monday to Thursday and thus prepare four of the eight working hours on Friday.

Fewer sick days

He gives his employees the remaining four hours, and on Thursday evening he begins the long weekend. Four hours less work, but the salary remains the same. But how is it possible to do the same work in 36 instead of the original 40 hours? Frederik Smerling said: “Compared to before, I am more rested on Monday morning. The extra day off would make itself felt. Not only with him, his colleagues are also very happy with the model, he reported.

Sick days are reduced and employees are more motivated. “We have always done our work conscientiously and with pleasure, but we are simply more efficient now,” the master metal worker continued. “You reward yourself when you work hard, which is not only effective, but also a good feeling,” he said. Marie-Antoinette Schleier also confirmed this. He only sees the advantage of the concept of the week of 4 days, also for the company. At first, only the workshop was empty on Friday. Employees took turns in the office so that the company remains accessible to customers. “However, when we saw how well the 4-day week worked and how positively customers reacted to it, we no longer operate the office on Fridays,” says Schleier.

Initially, he wanted to test the concept for three months. After this time, however, everyone became so familiar with it, optimizing their work processes and also convincing their customers that there was no question of keeping the week of 4 days. “We said at the beginning that if we didn’t finish a site on Thursday, we would just come on Friday as an exception, but the boss immediately prohibited that,” says Smerling.

“If I do something like this, then do it well. And to be able to judge if something works, there must be no exceptions,” Marie-Antoinette Schleier said. She can only recommend that each of her colleagues take the step and try the 4 day week. Of course, everyone needs some time to get used to it, but with a small organization there is nothing better for a company, he says.

A gift from the Werra-Meißner district

In the Werra-Meißner district, however, the businesswoman is still quite alone. “I don’t know of any other company in the district that already works like this,” says Marie-Antoinette Schleier. But it is certain that this is the future. Another advantage that should not be underestimated, especially at this time, is the saving in energy costs. The company needs to warm up on just four days, and they don’t have five days like before, and machines that consume electricity are running. Cars are also in the yard on the fifth day, employees do not have to drive to work, sometimes long distances.
(Wiebke Huck)

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