Lessons from the Logistics of Learning Day
Reading Time
Read if

Lessons from the Logistics of Learning Day

Lab Notes is a blog series dedicated to sharing our experiments in the space where the future of work and the future of learning converge. In this issue, we look at tips to help you implement your own 4 day work week trial.

Lab Notes

Hi, it’s Francine here, Chief of Staff at Eskwelabs. I love recreational activities that don’t involve a screen—like painting and jigsaw puzzles—and I am an avid birdwatcher. One thing I admire about birds is their effortless flight, working with the wind whenever they break free from stillness. Their strong wings give them the confidence to fly. To me, this is a perfect metaphor of how teams can flourish and thrive in the future of work when we provide them with the tools to succeed. Lab Notes is a joy to write because it’s ultimately a scrapbook of our efforts to be the wind beneath our team members’ wings, propelling them into success in the 21st century and beyond.

You can connect with me via LinkedIn here.

Lessons from the Logistics of Learning Day

We believe in your busyness. So we’re going to share what we learned from our first 4 day work week trial in under five minutes. This is the ultimate high five! 👋

👋 1 | Craft a context-relevant structure

Instead of our usual Monday to Friday work week, we dedicated one day (Thursdays) to what we call the “Learning Day.” For four weeks in January, team members were excused from meetings, set aside non-Learning Day tasks to focus on their chosen learning projects, and spent the entire day reading, watching videos, taking online courses, designing, and writing. 

Though this setup was not 100% perfect, given that there were some previously set recurring meetings that had snuck into the day. (This is something for us to iterate on for the next version of Learning Day). But what’s important here is crafting a structure that is relevant to our team and company. 

We exist in the upskilling space and there is nothing more “edtech” than contextualising the 4 day work week in this way.

Actionable item
Copy paste the email template below if you’re a company decision maker who can implement the Learning Day as an alternative to the 4 day work week:

Subject: Welcome to Learning Day at [Insert your company’s name]! 📚
Email body: Hello all and welcome to the first pilot for Learning Day at [Insert your company’s name]! 📚

"Oscar Wilde said that if you know exactly what you want to be in life, then you inevitably become it - that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing - an actor, a writer - I am a person who does things - I write, I act - and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun."

📌 What is Learning Day?
We will experiment on having one day per week dedicated to mastering new skills or tools, which you can deploy to advance your professional journey and your own curiosity as a learner.

📌 Who are participating?
This is a pilot for the [Insert selected team members]. Insights will be used to tailor and identify how we can make this work more broadly at [Insert your company’s name], as well as see how this helps set us up to do great things across all teams.

📌 How will this work?
Stay tuned for our next email! For now, this one is a quick announcement to get everyone excited.

If there are questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, then please reply to this email. This is a safe space, as always.

Happy learning!
[Insert email sender’s name]

👋 2 | Choose a pilot team and be clear with your intentions

We chose six team members from our Education team, taking into consideration that for these individuals, January would be a quiet month in terms of client-specific learning sprints. 

The beauty of testing the Learning Day with a smaller group of team members at the start is because of the amount of focus you can allot each team member’s learning day project and the entire Learning Day initiative itself.

When we presented this information upfront with the entire company, not only was it appreciated, but teams saw the thoughtfulness of having this experiment be contained before it would be fully rolled out.

Actionable item
Use this checklist below to determine the subset of your team that would make great pilot testers of your company’s Learning Day:
  • They are part of a client-driven team and they are currently experiencing a lull period in terms of active client projects.
  • They would benefit from a dedicated time for upskilling amidst the changing demands of their projects.
  • They are already enthusiastic about learning in general and this initiative would be an easy adoption for them.

👋 3 | Carry what can be carried

Learning Days at our company are purposeful, meaning all the unique ways of studying (reading, watching, listening, practising, etc.) lead to the creation of a project. To lessen the mental load being carried by our six pilot testers, we designated two facilitators to serve as guides throughout the whole process. 

One facilitator would serve as the educational foundation our pilot testers could rely on. 

  • Beating decision making paralysis with a small set of choices - Aurelien, our COO, had done the pre-work of suggesting a list of sample learning day projects that people could choose from. 
  • Lessening as many logistical tasks as possible - As our education-focused Learning Day facilitator, Aurelien had already set up the frequency, sequence, and time slots of the team members’ learning day project 1-on-1 consultation meetings. 
  • Lightening the load for gathering resources - Aurelien had prepared templates that could easily be filled out. Majority of the brain power used then was for the actual learning itself. (We’ll share the templates in future blog posts!)

One facilitator would serve as the operational foundation our pilot testers could rely on. 

  • Paving the way for peace and quiet - For our January experiment, I served as one of the facilitators. At the start of the week, during our company-wide meetings, I learned to dedicate a portion to remind the team about the Learning Day of our six pilot testers. These reminders were simple ways to deter any new meetings or tasks from landing on a Thursday Learning Day.
  • Setting up the virtual space - I utilized Discord threads in a pre-existing channel in our company Discord server. Organizing each week for the month of January allowed the pilot testers to feel the spirit of the Learning Day and experience organization in how messages were disseminated. 
  • Making it fun with prompts - The countdown to Thursday would be just as fun as Thursday itself. It’s important to really know your team, their personalities, interests, and disposition. This allowed me to experiment with a mix of prompts (which I’ll talk about in the next tip).
Actionable item
Determine who among your team would be best suited to be an education-focused vs. operations-focused facilitator. I’ve shared a list of the responsibilities of each facilitator above and if you want to try things on a volunteer basis, you can share this list with your team, too.

👋 4 | Commit to engage

New company initiatives need people to champion them to either make them something to be greatly excited about or so easily incorporated that these initiatives and activities become second nature for everyone. For our Learning Day experiment, we relied on the roles of the facilitators to keep our pilot team motivated and guided. 

We experimented with prompts to keep things fun and light. 

Here are a few examples of prompts we would chat in our Learning Day message threads on Discord:

  • What are your Learning Day essentials? (Food, productivity tips, etc.)
  • What is one song you want to add to our playlist?
  • What emoji are you feeling right now?

Here’s a visualization of the pulse check we did with our six pilot testers last January 5, 2023—the week when we launched Learning Day.

Actionable item
Copy paste the text below into your message threads if you want to get a pulse on your team:

Hi everyone! Kindly emoji react with your state at the end of this Learning Day.
1 - 🤯
2 - 🤔
3 - 🙂
4 - 😄
5 - 😍

Thank you, team!

👋 5 | Celebrate progress easily

This is the shortest section, because we hope that for you it would be the most natural. As an alternative to the 4 day work week, the Learning Day does require effort. But it reaps meaningful and fulfilling rewards.

Actionable item
  • Celebrate the journey of your team during company-wide meetings
  • Talk about their learning day projects in your internal and external newsletters (with consent!)
  • Thank them privately and publicly in your company’s chosen messaging platform (if you work remotely) or in your bulletin boards (if you work in-person).

Past issues | Lab Notes:

Future issues | What’s next in Lab Notes:

  • Professional Learning Plans
  • Open Bookshelves
  • Employee Engagement tips for Learning Day
  • Designing Learning Day Version 2
  • “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything...Fast” Book Club pick