Kakao Games, the publisher of Guardian Tales and Paths of Exile and maker of social media app Kakao Talk, is moving its staff to a biweekly 4-day week. Staff will have every other Friday off.
This is notable because, among other things, it illustrates how more companies are experimenting with incremental ways of rolling out the 4-day week. They actually introduced what they call the “Noolgeum system,” a set of work-life balance improvements that included every last Friday of the month off, in July 2018. As one paper reported (via Google Translate), “Kakao Games explained that the Noolgeum system has a positive effect on work efficiency by reducing working hours to improve quality of life and to focus more on working hours.” They also introduced a late start on Monday (similar to what Woowa Brothers started a few years earlier), and a 5:30 close on Fridays. So after 3 years, they’re moving from offering 12 Fridays off every year, to 26 Fridays.
The company says, “Because of the high strength and efficiency of the Noolgeum system, we expanded to the Noolgeum system every other week. We will continue to create a unique corporate culture unique to Kakao Games for the ‘balance between life and work’ of employees in the future.”
Another company, digital education platform Eduwill, started implementing a 4-day week and “Dream Days” in June 2019. People choose one day off per week, depending on work schedules and deadlines. Again, the approach was more incremental: they started in one department, then in August 2020 rolled it out across the company. Since then, one article reported (again, Google Translate), “despite the four-day week system, it has grown more than 20% compared to the previous year.”
I’m seeing more companies trying different incremental kinds of rollouts. Medtronic has allowed its various national offices to choose their own route to a shorter workweek, and of course Unilever is letting its New Zealand office try a 4-day week. What I think is great about the EduWill case is that shows how larger companies are able to move toward 4-day weeks by expanding existing benefits programs. SK, for example, has been trialing an 4-day week in one department, but also has “Super Fridays“– early closings every third Friday– in SK Telecom. Other companies have recently experimented with summer closings, or other temporary 4-day weeks. EduWill and Kakao Games show that these could really serve as beachheads to establish a 4-day week in these companies.