Beginning this April (next week!) Social Justice Fund will begin operating on a four day work week, with our virtual office open Monday through Thursday. Reducing working hours is a key part of holistically supporting staff wellness, the central focus of our project to revamp SJF’s HR policies. Underlying this focus is our commitment to Black liberation: we need to take real action to restore the ease, humanize our work, agency, and possibility stolen from us by white supremacist, capitalist norms.
During the rise of the pandemic, we were faced with the difficult realities of zoom fatigue, isolation, grief, health concerns, staff transitions and internal conflicts, and leadership changes — experiences we know are all too familiar within a plethora of workplaces right now. From fall of 2020 through the early months of 2021, we adopted a temporary four day work week to combat stress and burnout. Staff shared a lot of positive feedback about this period but because the policy was an emergency measure, we hadn’t equitably adjusted workloads to make the plan sustainable for the long term.
One year later, examining how we were still showing up to do our work despite a number of difficult transitions and significant feedback shared with staff about the rise of compassion fatigue, we realized we needed to reconsider the pace at which we operate as part of strengthening our wellness lens — a re-commitment to humanizing our workplace and carving out room to interrupt oppressive structures that lead to serious burnout. We were inspired by our friends at Seeding Justice who recently transitioned to a four day work week, and particularly by how they understand their transition as a decolonization of time:
“Before European colonization, Indigenous communities the world over were ruled by the seasons and the pathways of the sun. As colonizers sailed across the oceans, one of their tools of subjugation was imposing the concept of “time”: time as a vehicle of control, as a measure of productivity, and as a way to serve the wealthy ruling and property-owning classes that benefited from workers’ speed and efficiency back in their home countries.
The “40-hour work week” that is standard today across the United States is, reductively, the centuries-long distillation of those violent policies. In many sectors, it’s largely become the assumed minimum amount of work expected of “full-time” employees, as well…Decolonizing our time and our pay, and moving to a four-day work week, presents an opportunity to reclaim our time, energy and value from the industrial-capitalist system that was built on the ruthless extraction of labor from our bodies, a practice that continues still to this day.”
— From Seeding Justice (please support their powerful work!)
With spring just around the corner, we realized there wouldn’t be a better time than now to make our move. Our hope in sharing this with you all is to hold ourselves accountable to the values we champion for the communities we serve and to be another breath of life for a change we hope continues to spread throughout our field. So what should you expect from SJF? We’ll be formally closed on Fridays, although some staff may choose to work that day and flex off another depending on their needs. We won’t be available for meetings, and you can expect replies to Friday emails the following week. While this a new step forward for us we invite other organizations to join us in a quest to strengthen their internal wellness lens. Thank you for sticking with us as we move through our changes! As always, we have so much gratitude for our communities.
Valériana Chikoti-Bandua Estes