Jan Eppers is the founder and CEO of Frische Fische, a PR agency that is experimenting with the 4-day week. He is clearly a #ChangeAgent for us. Why? Because he is not afraid just to try something out and do it – and he talks about it so loosey-goosey that you might think that anyone could do it…
Jan, if you could change one thing about the job market right away, what would it be?
There aren’t so many things that get under my skin because the vast majority of it I can change. Whether it’s flexible working hours, places of work or even salaries; be it job interviews that take place during a walk or while I romp around with my kids on the playground, or that I never look at any credentials. The labor market has now become so transparent through social media that we can find those who are technically and personally suited for us. And I don’t mean LinkedIn or Xing; rather, we find that Twitter provides the best information. The most annoying things to me are still the formalities associated with health insurance, payroll tax and the umpteen certificates, but that can at least be outsourced to people who prefer to do that.
How have you personally contributed to bringing about change?
My model of the four-day week is very important to me. That is, each colleague can choose whether she/he wants to work four or five days a week with us. Weekly working hours and wages remain the same, but everyone has a permanent right to a three-day weekend. We have been working on the principle for 20 months and it works wonderfully even in a communication agency that is busy operating and communicating. Initially, half of our colleagues immediately switched to four days; right now, we are at 12 out of 16, which is three quarters. It doesn’t fit for all life circumstances, such as having small children without the buffer of a partner or family, but it is always worthwhile to try it out and see what new possibilities open up; if you’ve already been able to do your shopping, clean the apartment, and go to your doctor’s appointment by Friday afternoon, then you have two and a half completely free days ahead of you!
For employers, it’s very easy: introduce a model, go through the options with everyone individually, and add three more lines to the employment contract and send a message to the health insurance. That’s it. Depending on the company, workflows still have to be adjusted, but if the will exists, everyone will certainly find a way. And if it doesn’t work well, you can just change it back easily enough and are enriched by the experience.
What does a company prepared for the “working world of tomorrow” look like?
Tomorrow is tomorrow is tomorrow. I don’t like to predict what the world of work will look like in five years. Will our texts write algorithms? Will PR run only through door-to-door house calls or via chemtrails? How will we reach those who have not yet been vaccinated against chemtrails? What’s clear is that every business must be designed to be very flexible, as employees and locations and times are likely to become more flexible. At the same time, most people will still strive for security in 500 years, so security in all its flexibility will be important – probably more important than it is today. However, this security will no longer be based solely on a secure salary and a familiar job, but rather on a self-determined commitment to a particular cause, which we presumably continue to call work despite all further developments.
Jan, thank you for your time & inspiration!
In our #ChangeAgents section, we introduce people who encourage us to tackle and change things. Strong minds, who work with passion for a more humane working world, thus initiating a change in thinking and actively helping to shape change processes. Our #ChangeAgents are role models, lateral thinkers, multipliers and dissenters.