Front's vision is to make work happier — and it has been from the very start. So last year when people across the tech industry resigned in droves, I took a step back to consider: what’s a meaningful way to make sure employees at Front are engaged but not burnt out, and actually working happier — without sacrificing productivity and business growth?
I feel strongly that it’s up to leaders to make organizational changes that drive engagement and prevent burnout; the employee shouldn’t be left to figure it out on their own. So in May 2021, Front experimented with “Flexible Fridays:” a company-wide, weekly initiative that gives teammates agency over how they spend their Friday — with no expectation to be online. Just a few months after we launched it, employees shared wildly popular sentiments about Flexible Fridays through an engagement survey: 87% said that Flexible Fridays had positively impacted their desire to work at Front for the next two years, and 89% said that they work happier because of Flexible Fridays.
One year into Flexible Fridays, the feedback has only continued to be positive — and we’ve experienced exciting business growth as a result, too. I want to share transparently how Flexible Fridays have impacted our business and how it’s become a valuable lever for both retention and recruitment that other companies may be able to learn from. I’m also happy to share that as of today, Flexible Fridays are a permanent part of working at Front.
Flexible Fridays are driving both retention and recruitment
We had some predictions that employees and candidates alike would be compelled by Flexible Fridays. After all, 95% percent of employees surveyed want flexible hours, compared with 78% of workers who want location flexibility, according to a new report from Future Forum. But the impact has been far greater than expected.
Some longtime employees express that the new routine makes it hard for them to consider leaving Front:
“Flexible Fridays have totally shifted the feel of my work week — the ability to use my Fridays for some combo of focused/distraction free working + errands/chores/appointments + getting an early start on the weekend is an insanely nice change — would not want to go back to working without it!” – Trevor Shibley, Software Engineer at Front (Remote, Seattle)
“It might seem like a small thing, but removing the pressure of having Friday meetings and responding to every Slack is life changing. Hit that snooze button an extra time (or three), finally get a moment to focus on a task, walk away from your screen without the guilt, log off early and do something you love — the world is your oyster! Truly an effective tool for dealing with employee burnout .” — Erik McCoy, Solutions Architect at Front (Chicago)
Our recruitment efforts have also been supported by Flexible Fridays. Since launching Flexible Fridays, we have doubled the number of employees working at the company; today we have over 400 Fronteers — and counting! Flexible Fridays have greatly supported our ability to attract top talent in a fiercely competitive job market; 63% of Front employees hired in the past year report that Flexible Fridays positively influenced their decision to join the company, according to results from a new hire survey. Here’s what they have to say:
“I was looking for a company that proved they cared about employees’ well-being and it definitely led me to choose Front over other companies. I started in May 2021, so I haven’t been at Front without them and can honestly say that it would take a lot for me to leave Front because of Flex Fridays. My work-life balance has never been better.” — Anne Smythe, SMB Account Executive at Front (Chicago)
“A lot of companies say they encourage work-life balance, but seeing that Front has a company-wide practice of Flexible Friday shows that it's not all talk — Front actively prioritizes taking care of their teammates.” — Taryn Arnold, Copywriter at Front (Remote, Los Angeles)
We’ve had our strongest hiring year to date, and I’m beyond proud to work alongside our current team.
Productivity soars when employees prioritize work for 4 days
With Flexible Fridays, employees prioritize efficiency Monday through Thursday — so it’s no surprise that they feel more productive and motivated during those days. But we also designed this day with deep work and work-life balance in mind. It was important for our team to be able to “turn off” if they needed to focus on heads down work or to take personal time as needed. So how did Flexible Fridays impact productivity and our business?
Because all employees at Front use Front day in and day out, we were able to dig deep into our data and analyze usage trends over the past year. What we found is that not only have Flexible Fridays not impacted our business negatively, but our business is doing better than ever because of it. Since instituting Flexible Fridays in May 2021, we’ve seen a dramatic drop in Front usage and scheduled meetings every Friday among our employees: a 30% reduction of Front usage overall, 47% decrease in internal discussions, and a 43% reduction in non-recurring meetings. At the same time, our annual average Net Promoter Score (NPS) increased by 26% since April 2020, suggesting that we’ve continued to maintain high standards with customer experience despite Flexible Fridays. Similarly, Front’s Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) has averaged 98.60% since July 2021; Front has consistently been ranked one of the top 10 companies globally by Nicereply.
I take this to mean that while Fronteers are working in Front less on Fridays, productivity and impact isn’t sacrificed. I launched Front with a vision for helping people be happier at work, and I’m excited to see our data from the past year show that our team has worked with more flexibility and more impact.
But data is only a part of the picture. Most folks who have worked from home the past couple years can reflect on the nuanced dynamics that remote work can bring: more flexibility, but also a lack of boundaries. I turned to some employees to hear about how Flexible Fridays have impacted their personal productivity:
“In theory, working from home has helped my productivity. However, at the same time, I feel much more tied to my laptop and phone as we have become smarter about expanding the amount of things we’re able to accomplish via these devices. As a result, during the heart of the pandemic, I found myself being too “available” to work, and am often checking my email or responding to Slack messages during ‘off hours.’ With Flexible Fridays, there are no meetings, and no expectation to respond to email or chat messages. It’s a day that I can use however I need, whether that’s for ‘heads down’ uninterrupted work, to attend appointments, or spend some extra time with my family.”. — Shriya Ravikumar, Head of Sales Strategy & Operations at Front (San Francisco)
“This one change has been a tremendous boost to my productivity and well-being. It’s the one day where I get to do focus work or catch up on all conversations that I have not been able to during the week. And I love the fact that I am empowered to choose how I spend that day.” — Vrushali Patil, Head of Platform Engineering at Front (San Francisco)
“Flexible Fridays allow me to end my week with no tasks undone and start the next week with a blank canvas. Flexible Friday became essential to my week and I won't be able to do without anymore!” — Gauthier Favier, Product Designer at Front (Paris)
Flexible Fridays can help create boundaries for dispersed or remote teams, keeping burnout at bay and positively impacting productivity — and, as it turns out, your customer experience.
Businesses thrive on efficiency and happy employees
While the ethos of Flexible Fridays was to combat employee burnout and boost engagement, it’s aligned with an impressive stage of growth for Front. Along with our growing customer satisfaction scores and headcount growth discussed above, our revenue and growth metrics are at an all time high. One of the most important things I look at, though, is how employees are feeling day-to-day. I was thrilled to read the results from a recent employee engagement survey that 98% of Fronteers support the company’s decision to make Flexible Fridays a permanent program and 89% of employees say Flexible Fridays positively impacted their desire to work at Front for the next two years.
Of course, we can’t directly link the two — but it’s quite a coincidence that as our employee engagement metrics improve from Flexible Fridays, our business metrics improve significantly as well.
Needless to say, Flexible Fridays were an experiment that has become a cornerstone of our culture at Front. It seems that as employees feel respected and because we’re genuinely invested in their mental health and work-life balance, they’re able to show up for Front in return.
So, with one year down, we’ve officially decided to implement Flexible Fridays as a permanent policy. Check out our careers page to see how else we invest in our employee culture — we’d love for you to join us.
Written by Mathilde Collin