On the 9th of May 2022 we moved all full time employees to a four-day working week. The transition was done with no loss of pay and a new, shorter number of contracted hours (32).
Initially we introduced this as a trial, however after the trial proved successful, we made the change permanent. Having already offered our team flexi-time and remote working, the change for us was a natural progression and fitted in with our ethos of promoting a strong work/life balance.
Reasons for a change to working 4 days?
There were several business-focused reasons behind the move including:
- a desire for higher productivity and less wasted time;
- a wish to help team members with the rising cost of living;
- a general goal of further assisting employee well-being.
In addition, we believed the change would enhance our appeal to prospective employees as well as helping retain the team we already had. In the digital sphere, the competition for the best talent is fierce, so we figured this would be another way to attract candidates to our agency – You can find our latest openings here.
What started it all off?
One of the main catalysts for the move came as a result of the cost of living crisis, which led to a team member asking for a change in working hours due to increasing childcare costs. As a business we were already tentatively researching the concept of a four-day week prior to this person coming to us, and this was just the push we needed to trial the new working arrangement.
Quality not quantity
Sometimes less is more, and this is certainly true for a four-day week. Less days does not mean less output, quite the contrary in fact. This new model of work focuses on quality rather than quantity, and revolutionises the future of work. We already measured our teams based on output not attendance, meaning it’s incumbent on team members to produce results rather than to demonstrate how many hours they spent working on something.
Prior to the move we had been researching the pros and cons of the four-day week looking at various case studies from other companies. We then held a senior leadership discussion around the possibility of bringing it in and asked for feedback on whether it was a good idea and how we could implement it.
How does the 4 day week work in practice?
Once the senior team had ironed out the specifics, we announced an initial three-month trial during a company-wide video call. In this, Gareth Hoyle (MD) explained how we’d be splitting the team into two groups and that each team would get a four-day weekend twice a month. With the team being split into two, the output for clients remained the same. Although we spoke to our clients about the move, due to the nature of the split teams none even noticed that we were working a four-day week.
Crazy LinkedIn reaction
Gareth also posted the announcement on LinkedIn, which then went viral with over 38,700,000 impressions, 623,000 reactions, 9,200 comments and 13,000 shares.
As you might expect the comments were mixed, some liked the idea, some didn’t (although the vast majority liked it). Some commenters just asked questions about the new way of working. We also promised an update on how it went. So here we are – making it a permanent shift in working behaviour.
In addition to the LinkedIn reaction, the story also secured a variety of national, regional and trade coverage including a piece on Yahoo! Finance, an interview with Gareth on Messenger Newspapers, and an interview with an employee, Jack Darracott, in the Daily Mirror.
Challenges a business wanting to change to a 4-day week potentially face
A four-day-week obviously wouldn’t work for all businesses but we do believe that where output can be clearly measured and managed, it is possible across many roles. However, there are many challenges that may stop a business switching to a four-day working week. The main three we came up with are…
- A fear of the unknown – “we’ve always done it this way” is something many business owners may be thinking. However, by embracing the change and challenge, many should soon discover new and innovative ways to tackle the hurdles they are facing.
- A lack of trust in the staff and processes – If you hired someone to do a job, and you know the expected output is reasonable, why not trust them to run a bit quicker, find some efficiencies and free up some of their time to enjoy life outside of the working environment?
- Worrying about what clients would think – This should be the least of the worries but we do understand why it exists. If you are measuring and managing the right data points and outputs, your customers should never even know you are working a four day week as the output to them should remain unchanged. However, you may need to juggle your operations teams to ensure five days coverage, as we have done by splitting our team into two weekly shift patterns.
A good work/life balance is the key to a happy and healthy workforce which leads to loyalty – ultimately helping our business grow. It also makes our company more attractive for potential future superstars, as people applying for jobs here have mentioned that the four-day week specifically attracted them to the role. This is not all plain sailing and it could be argued you need more dedicated HR time as you will get a lot more responses to job applications but not always maintaining the high standards and traits you are looking for.
FAQs on working four days per week
What are some of the benefits of working a four-day week?
A four-day week helps to:
- Support staff with the rise in the cost of living
- Improves productivity, wellbeing and efficiency
- Give staff the freedom to do what they love and improve their work/life balance
- Helps retain current staff and attracts new people to your business
How does the four-day week work?
- We now work 32 hours per week (instead of 37.5) and have removed one full day per week.
- All teams have been split into two groups with each team alternating work weeks so there is always somebody working on any given week day.
- The work weeks looks like:Week 1 – Monday to Thursday Week 2 – Tuesday to Friday
- This is then rotated so each team has a four-day weekend twice a month and two normal weekends.
- This is not the only way to implement it of course, you may want to have all staff working Mon – Thu – it really depends on the nature of your business.
How does this work with bank holidays?
Exactly the same as it would if we were to work five days a week – everyone still has the bank holiday off.
Is there a loss in pay?
No, all full-time staff have moved to a four-day week with no loss in pay.
How does this work with clients?
This is explained in Q2, with the team being split into two, the output for clients remains the same and all roles and responsibilities have 5 day per week coverage.
Has workload increased across the teams trying to fit five days of work into four?
No, generally productivity has increased as everyone feels less stressed and more refreshed when they’re in work.
Everyone is working an additional half an hour on the days they do work and makes sure they plan ahead so they know what’s needed and when by.
This is also important if you need something from someone else on the team, knowing the split, everyone plans ahead to make sure they’re able to get what they need when that particular employee is working.
So there we have it. We tried it. We liked it. The clients are not affected so we are going to move to a 4 day week on a permanent basis. Our staff retention rates have increased. Our job ad to CV received metrics have improved (at a faster rate than our CV to Interview ratio) and all client work is being completed to the same or higher standards than ever before.
We are all happier and are grateful that our roles afford us this way of working. Feel free to get in touch with us on socials or via the contact page if you wish to feature our story in your publication.