Sundays Off at Kahena: Work / Life Harmony in Israeli High Tech

As we’ve grown up as a company at Kahena, I find that we continue to learn lessons around the health and happiness of our team. Over the past six years, we’ve had our ups and downs, revolutions and evolutions, and our fair share of intense projects & clients. However, one consistent theme continues to emerge: the sustainability of the company is directly proportional to the stability, health, & happiness of our staff.

Although difficult to measure, every investment in the culture of team first and foremost has paid serious dividends. Be it by adding a lunch delivery allowance to encourage the team to take a true break mid-day and eat together, or tweaking our ‘flex-time’ policy to grant more autonomy & foster trust, we’ve found that when we take action towards increasing individual and team welfare, the response comes both in the form of happiness and productivity.

It’s with this spirit that we decided to shut down the entire company for several 3-day weekends every year.

We’ll be enjoying several long weekends each year that enable us to truly unwind, relax, and enjoy our family, friends, or much-needed solo time. No need to use vacation days; they’re simply paid Sundays off for the entire team (Sunday-Thursday work weeks here in Israel). While the government has proposed an initial bill to make this sort of initiative the law of the land, for the moment it seems like just lip service. We’re joining a couple of other pioneering companies here in Israel that simply don’t want to wait for the government to take action.

Admittedly, I was concerned at first about loss of productivity and the bottom line. However, the more we laid it out and took a step back, the more this kind of initiative made perfect sense.

The logic is quite simple. Never before have we as humans been able to achieve so much in a given hour of the work day. It’s a dangerous and intoxicating feeling. Every minute of the day we are able to multi-task with unlimited browser tabs, extremely fast hand-held super-computers, high-speed internet, and a never-ending stream of pinging messages. I’ve found that this dynamic inadvertently can breed a culture of taking on more & more without stopping to ask ‘why’. We find that it’s all too easy as digital marketers to always take on more than what’s truly possible or healthy.

The truth is that more hours with your ‘butt in the chair’ doesn’t actually mean greater productivity. Many would agree that there are diminishing returns for every extra hour worked after a certain point in the day or week. There’s that moment in the day where no extra cup of coffee or snack will make a meaningful difference in performance, creativity, or efficiency.

So in this case, yes, we believe that less can be more. A more concentrated focus on the hours that we are ‘on’, with just as much of a focus and reflection during the hours that we are truly off — both as a team and individually.

I am really excited to see how things go with our first 3-day weekend starting tomorrow. I believe it will mean better work/life harmony where our personal and professional lives are more in sync. My hope is that the team returns rejuvenated and ready to rock on Monday morning.

Although this is a trial, I’m confident that this initiative will fare like similar experiments in the past at Kahena. The perpetual proven hypothesis here seems to be that the more we focus on investing in our team, both personally and professionally, the more sustainable we are as a company.

This Sunday, I’ll be sleeping in a bit, putting my feet in the Mediterranean, picking up my daughter from school a little early, and will be fully present at dinner time with my family. Email can wait.