You implemented a 4-day week at the AVIVA Hotel in 2018. What were the motivations for you to introduce this system?
The idea of introducing a 4-day week at our hotel came to me during a conversation with my neighbor. He is a high-voltage installation technician, and he explained to me that in the construction industry — in his company among others — this work model is already used frequently. Now I asked myself, why should this not also be possible in a hotel? As the managing director, I am constantly thinking about how I can make working life easier for my team and retain employees in the long term. So the decision was made to test the 4-day week in our hotel.
We started with a 14-day test phase at the reception desk. After these two weeks, the enthusiasm of the employees was so overwhelming that we established the model there and began to put it to the test in other departments as well. Sports department, service team, kitchen, wellness department, accounting, marketing, housekeeping — everybody had the opportunity to find out for themselves whether a 4-day week was conceivable and practicable for them. In the end, this model did not prove to be an ideal solution for the housekeeping team, but this is easily explained: The staff starts work early, which is why an extension of the working day by two hours is particularly strenuous in this area. Currently, 40 of our 73 employees* take advantage of the 4-day week. It should be noted, however, that the remaining 33 include part-time employees and apprentices, who are not allowed to work 10 hours a day under labor law.
I work in a bar, disco, and restaurant and really appreciate having three days off in a row. This allows me to fully enjoy my free time. I consider this work time model to be a unique selling point of our company. I come back to work relaxed and refreshed as a result.
The extent of working hours and salary remain the same, although the daily working time is increased by two hours, as mentioned previously. However, we did not establish the 4-day week without rethinking our work culture in general. Processes have been simplified and digitalization — and that is where hotelkit came in — has found its way into our operations. In our meetings, too, we pay more attention to greater efficiency. Of course, we also expect our employees to adapt to the new work time model to a certain extent. For example, doctor’s appointments — unless they are urgent — should take place on the weekday that has become free.
Does the 10-hour day make personnel planning easier or more difficult?
Basically, the 4-day week has not presented us with any major challenges in terms of personnel planning. Each department has its own fixed opening hours, which we can cover with our work times in such a way that there is virtually no overtime. Only in the F&B area, the situation a little more complex, as a higher degree of flexibility is required there. However, the 12-hour day, which is covered by labor law, gives us the necessary leeway if required.
I am very satisfied with the 4-day week. There is enough time for my hobbies and I can recharge my batteries.
Has employee motivation changed since then?
Definitely. Our employees come to work more rested, relaxed and happy. The stress of having to do something after work is eliminated. Instead, there is a clear separation between workdays and the rest of the week, which significantly increases the quality of free time. In addition, some of our employees no longer have to travel 400 kilometers per month — that saves a lot of time, money, and energy. The roster arithmetic also allows one to take several days off at a time without using up vacation time. Ultimately, however, the success of this work time model manifests itself in one factor above all: we hardly experience any more fluctuation.
As a beautician, I appreciate having three days off in a row. It allows me to come back to work relaxed and have much more time for what’s important: friends, family and hobbies.
How do you manage internal communication when employees are absent for several days?
On the communication level, we have a stable foundation with hotelkit. With Handovers and News, we can quickly and easily communicate important information to the entire team. In addition, many processes have been simplified, for example in the repairs department. Especially in times of the pandemic, the digital platform also supported us in other ways, for example, when it came to quickly obtaining signatures for short-time work. In addition, there is an individual meeting structure in each department. Once a quarter, the entire company comes together. At these team conferences, upcoming projects are discussed, and we evaluate what is currently going well and where there is need for improvement.
In your opinion, would the 4-day week be feasible for all hotels or does it require certain prerequisites?
I find it hard to understand why so many members of the industry still resist modern working time concepts like this. At the same time, there is a great deal of helplessness when it comes to finding solutions to the ubiquitous brain drain. Of course, a city hotel with year-round operations has different requirements than a seasonal operation on the Arlberg, which might be open from November to April only. Basically, however, I believe a 4-day week is possible in any hotel, regardless of type and size.
You will soon be opening a second hotel. Will the 4-day week also be introduced there?
Each operation is individual and a separate analysis of the situation is required. However, the plan here is also to establish a 4-day week as far as possible. In the industry, we have to think about how we can distinguish ourselves from the competition. How can I make work life as pleasant as possible for my employees? That should be our guiding principle as an employer. That’s why at AVIVA, we go even further and offer other benefits in addition to this modern work hours model, such as a low-cost company car with electric drive, a health coach and our personal employee academy. I am firmly convinced that working in a hotel can not only be made more attractive again for skilled workers, but can also encourage people looking for a new career to change industries.
I like working at AVIVA****s make friends hotel. There are various training opportunities for us, plus we have a €1000 further education bonus, which is great.
Conclusion after 3 years: Will the AVIVA Hotel stick with the 4-day week?
Yes. The 4-day week has definitely worked for us and the model is now indispensable for my team and me.
About AVIVA****s make friends: The AVIVA****s make friends hotel in the Upper Austrian Mühlviertel is Europe’s first hotel specifically for singles and solo travelers. Situated 45 minutes from Passau, a wide-ranging offer for body and soul awaits. A versatile sports offer, a 2000 m² comprehensive SPA area with alpine views as well as a fantastic pampering program with massages and beauty treatments, its own disco, nature-based recreation on alpine pastures or the hotel’s own power place, the opportunity to brew your own beer in the brewing boutique and much more ensure an unforgettable stay. The AVIVA****s make friends hotel is a hotelkit user since 2018.
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About the author
Narratives about impoverished poets during his studies encouraged him to follow his passion in a secure job. In hotelkits marketing he takes care of packing the numerous ideas of his colleagues into exciting stories.