The 4 Day Week: A QA Lead's Story
We're over halfway through our 4-day working week trial, so it feels like a great time to give you an update on how it's going with a series of posts from Hutchies across different departments. Next up, it's Andreea, one of our QA Leads to share what it's been like for her team...
What’s your role?
I’m a QA Project Lead, currently overseeing 2 projects - one game that is live and a new game that is in the validation stage. The team I manage directly consists of 2 embedded QA specialists: one manual game tester who is focused on the live game, ensuring that all of our updates are thoroughly tested and a test automation engineer who is focused on the new game that is still in the early stages. Test automation is something relatively new for us, so we are constantly experimenting, learning and collaborating with the entire team.
How long have you been at Hutch?
A little over 3 years.
THE 4 DAY WEEK
What was your first reaction when you found out that Hutch was taking part in the 4 Day Week trial?
I was very excited! I thought it would have a positive impact on the work-life balance; moving to a 4 day work week would allow for more time to spend with friends and family, and for us to generally get more rest over the weekend and come back to work refreshed the next Monday.
What’s been the biggest challenge for your team?
So far, our biggest challenge has been constantly adjusting our meetings, from their overall duration to reducing the number of meetings in general, so that we still have enough time for uninterrupted deep work as well. It really made us analyse each meeting individually and make sure everyone comes prepared and that we stick to an agenda.
What are your top 3 productivity hacks?
I've been testing out some productivity hacks recently and these are the 3 that I find most useful:
The pomodoro technique - this is a personal time management technique used to break up work into 25 minute sessions. This means essentially having 25 minutes of uninterrupted work, or "focus time" (no Slack, no emails, no other distractions) followed by a 5 minute break. This works really well for those times when I have a few smaller tasks and I can be done with them in a few of these sessions
Eat your frogs technique - this encourages you to do a little bit of planning at the end of the day and write down the most challenging tasks (your frogs) that you have to do for the next day and then commit to having them done, starting with the biggest frog. This has been very helpful in prioritising some of my tasks and making sure I focus on the most important ones first.
Reducing Slack check-ins - this can be a bit difficult, depending on the day. But I've tried to reduce the number of times I check Slack notifications during the day whenever I need to stay focused on an important task.
Were there any unexpected outcomes / experiences?
I guess something that continues to be a pleasant surprise (for everyone in QA) is discovering that working 4 days instead of 5 does not have a big impact on what we are able to achieve. In general, we are still able to get work done without rushing or feeling pressured. At the same time, having an extra day for ourselves, turned out to have a big impact, everyone is feeling more productive, more motivated and well-rested. Another good thing is that now everyone looks at meetings a lot more critically, and we are not afraid to cancel the ones that are no longer necessary.
What are your hopes / plans for the remainder of the trial?
I constantly check-in with my team to see how they feel about the trial and focus on anything that we might want to improve, things that will help us be more efficient, without draining our energy. We are still learning, still adapting, but for the most part we’ve found our rhythm and it's going pretty well. I hope we'll be able to maintain this productivity long term and continue to do good work, so that this trial can be a success.
THE LONG WEEKEND
How do you use your extra day?
I'm in the process of moving into a new house, so I've been using my Fridays to go to various furniture stores and other home shops; grocery shopping is another thing I tend to do on Fridays now, as it feels less crowded than Saturday or Sunday. It's easier to run certain errands on a Friday, usually. But also just generally going out for a nice walk, or a nice drive, and relaxing more.
What impact has the extra day off had on you and your team?
In terms of work, we are more determined to be efficient and prioritise our tasks better. On a personal level, we socialise more! We talk more about all the things we've done over the long weekend.
How do you find your team tend to use their extra day?
In general, everyone is getting a lot done on a Friday, things that would otherwise be done on the weekend, and then they still have 2 days to rest properly.
How do you ensure people don’t end up working on the Friday?
We realised quickly that we need to shift our mindset a bit, and actually stop work when the workday is over on a Thursday. It's necessary to stick to this schedule if we want to make the right assessment at the end of this trial. I always remind my team about this whenever we have our catch-up meetings or our 1 to1s.
TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING A 4 DAY WEEK
What advice do you have for other companies thinking of trying out a 4 Day Week?
Be a little bit more rigorous than usual with how you use your time during the week. For example, consider replacing low value meetings with an asynchronous process. What worked for us was reducing meeting times by streamlining updates in meetings and also cancelling all those "meetings that should have been an email".
Any specific advice for those with a QA team?
As QA, our work can depend heavily on other disciplines, like client and server devs, art and UI, design. If everyone is working towards the same goal and doing their best to make a 4 day week successful and work more efficiently, that efficiency mindset will trickle down to QA as well. Always communicate with your team and work together to achieve your project’s goals.
Find out more about the UK's 4 Day Week trial, being run by 4 Day Week Global, with 70 companies taking part: https://www.4dayweek.com/news-posts/uk-four-day-week-pilot-begins
Interested in working at Hutch? Check out our current vacancies here: https://www.hutch.io/careers/