Four-day workweeks at 25 Hours Hotels

There is a new kid on the block in the Copenhagen hotel industry – with new visions of how to attract and engage staff, including the introduction of a four-day workweek. We speak to VP of People & Culture at 25 Hours Hotels, Kathrin Gollubits.

By Kim Wyon

Foto: Sebastian Coman, Unsplash

25 Hours Hotels, Kahtrin Gollubits, photo: Stephan Lemke

How important is high job satisfaction to a hotel chain such as 25 Hours?

Job satisfaction is more important than ever. We have all been through two years of sleepwalking. After the COVID restrictions, we all just what to go out and enjoy a good time. The hotel industry now needs to provide – and have the staffing to do so. We at 25 Hours Hotels have set out to create a staff culture based on our knowledge of what makes our employees happy and want to work for us. Key to job satisfaction with us is our honest and transparent communication. We have introduced a social-media-style workplace communications tool that is super easy to use and where everyone working for us can share any information with any staff level anywhere we operate. So, even if you have only just joined us, you can with one click share a message with anyone, including me.

In the recruitment phase, we are also very clear about what we can offer, and we listen to applicant expectations – what benefits they are attracted to and find are cool. Another core value is to offer equal opportunity for all. We seek to develop an inclusive culture so employees become part of the 25 Hours tribe. When hiring, our primarily interest is personality, rather than simply focusing on experience or skills. As part of our tribe-building, we invite our staff members to hang out after work hours, celebrate their successes with colleague and host private events with friends and family at our hotels. I know that some hospitality companies restrict private access for staff members – but why?

“It is also a voluntary scheme – we don’t force it on anyone.”

25 Hours Hotels has introduced a four-day workweek. Are all service staff members at the hotels covered by the scheme?

We have initially introduced a four-day workweek as a pilot scheme in our German-speaking areas of operation. With our Danish operations, we have in our startup phase mainly focused on familiarising ourselves with the local labour market. Fortunately, we have not experienced difficulty attracting staff. But a four-day workweek is in our future toolbox for this market, too. Naturally, with our equal opportunity policy, the four-day workweek is an option we extend to all staff members directly employed by us, on all levels. It is also a voluntary scheme – we don’t force it on anyone. Our scheme operates with 4 weekly workdays of 9 hours each. Staff members can try this schedule for 3-6 months to see if it works for them and their family. These are early days, but since four-day workweeks are likely to become an industry norm, we thought it would be an advantage to become first-movers and learn from the process.

Some are critical of the idea of introducing a four-day workweek because they fear employees will be subjected to more work stress. What challenges with the scheme have you encountered?

A four-day workweek requires rethinking many aspects of management. It can mean hiring more staff and requires greater flexibility. So, some staff members may experience having to work with new tasks some of the time. They also need to adapt to changes to roasters and work schedules. As for workplace stress, then this is already and issue we in the industry need to deal actively with. We all operate in a fast-paced, digitalised environment and yet need to ask ourselves where the pressure to perform really comes from. Often it is a question of mindset and our own expectations.

From my personal experience, I benefited greatly from joining a basic self-management course. Why, for instance, do we expect emails to necessarily be answered within 24 hours? Is this always necessary? We need to be transparent about workplace stress issues no matter our job tasks or the number of days a week we work.