We’re offering summer working hours in 2022

Allie Shewan
|May 20, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Prolific employees will work summer hours from the 6th June to 26th August. This means everyone will end work on Friday 2 hours earlier than usual.
  • We’re applying this to all employees, including those on our ‘frontline’: our support staff and engineering coverage will be able to take these hours elsewhere in the week, and part-time workers will receive a pro-rated version.
  • We’re doing this as the first of a series of wellness experiments to quantifiably measure what works at Prolific. Our aim is for our employees to be happier, but we will also take a look at how this affects productivity and sentiment overall.

At Prolific, we’re always working to intentionally create a work environment that truly works for our staff. How can we come up with inclusive policies that help our employees to thrive? This means thinking deeply and approaching new ideas with a true sense of curiosity: will this change make things better for every employee? How will we know if the change is successful? Beyond that, starting with why is key. We used this principle when we closed for our extended Easter break, and we’re applying this again here.

As we said before, we’re living through tough times. There is a sense of tiredness in the world at large, and as much as we’d maybe like to separate life from work, we come to work with our whole selves. Rest is important. Wellness is important. Having said that, we want to continue to be innovative in this space and not compromise on our ambitious goals. It’s a tricky balance! With that, here’s what we did to get to the summer hours decision:

The first step is simple - just ask!

A screenshot of the survey sent to Prolific employees

Something we always do at Prolific is we try to get as much information as possible about what people are thinking and feeling before we make a decision. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be the only piece of data we use, but it would be remiss of us not to get it proverbially from the horse’s mouth.

We ran a survey with both scale-based questions and a couple of open-ended questions to get a sense of what folks’ priorities were. Then, we took a dive into the data to gauge which direction we should be going. The results were definitely interesting!

Figure out what we’re focusing on, and what we’re not

Largely, our employees care very deeply about more time off or holidays in general, so we used that as our main focus. As we mentioned before however, it’s not as easy as just taking some survey responses, looking at it and going, “Sure! have a four-day week!” We do have to also consider how things scale, what we want to achieve as a business, and whether we’re commercially ready to make decisions that can impact performance.

Survey responses to the question 'How important is having more time off for holidays to you?'

The interesting thing about this survey: it revealed what people cared less about. This was helpful in narrowing down what we could de-prioritise for another day. Honestly, we made some assumptions that were quashed by this exercise, which was very enlightening.

Plan and execute

A slack message from an employee sharing the idea of summer hours

So, we now had our focus. Within the People Operations team we were ruminating on a couple of options where we could directly respond to the top priority in a scalable way. We also wanted to make it clear to our people that whatever we chose to do, we would do it as a trial, evaluate, and decide whether the change should stick.

We have a Slack channel called #culture-club where all Prolific employees are welcome to comment, question, and provide suggestions on shaping Prolific’s culture. One of the suggestions that came through was reduced daily hours in the summer -something we were already considering. It felt serendipitous, so we decided to choose this idea as our first wellness experiment based on what we perceived to be popular demand.

Our decision: give people reduced working hours in the summer. Every Prolifico can finish two hours earlier (dependent on when they start the day) so they can enjoy a longer weekend and come back on Monday more refreshed.

It was also something that will be a big impact on wellness (who doesn’t want a longer weekend in the summer?) without it massively reducing our work hours right now. We might consider more time off experiments in the future, but it allows us to dip our toes in the water to see how it impacts on our OKRs and financial measures.

Give the people what they want -with some limits

The Head of People Operations announcing the summer hours experiment for 2022

Our goal is to give our Prolificos what they want by reducing the amount of time they spend at work in the summer while maintaining the same productivity levels. Only time will tell if we’ll succeed, but while we’re going through this experiment, we also wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page when it came to how we’d measure success.

When we communicated this to our people, we made it clear that this was an experiment with a beginning and an end date. We also stressed that we’re evaluating the company’s performance over this time -not in a punitive way, but to understand just how a change like this can impact the day-to-day.

We are really excited to see how it all goes, and we’re pretty confident it’s going to be a positive change not just for business performance, but for employee happiness at large. Plus, we’re pretty excited to see all the wonderful summery photos we’re going to get on Slack. (Dogs in sunglasses, anybody?)

We're hiring for a bunch of amazing roles at Prolific. If you want to join a company that rigorously and scientifically finds ways to improve employee wellbeing, head over to our careers page to check out our vacancies.