In mid-June, I announced our intention to trial a 4 day work week, without reducing staff pay.
The trial started on June 25th, with us working Monday-Thursday, and ended with the sixth Friday, on the 3rd August. The next week, I shared feedback surveys with clients and the team, and in the time since, I’ve been collecting and going through it.
So, what’s the upshot?
We’re sticking with the 4 day work week, without cutting staff pay, effective from the week of the 3rd September!
How the six weeks went:
The most important question for me to answer was – ‘is this workable in a way that doesn’t impact client results?’, and for me, for the team and, most importantly, for our clients, the trial answered that emphatically and positively.
It wasn’t without its stress. For instance, in an example of laughably bad decision-making, I implemented the six week trial over the summer. You know… when people are much more likely to have booked weeks of annual leave off. In fact, during the trial, we had just three days where we had a full complement in the office.
Despite my (ahem, enthusiasm? That’s what I’m calling it) enthusiasm, we’ve had a great response from both clients and the team – and I think this says, more than anything else could, that the trial was a success.
Here are a few points to mention from the trial:
- We’ve won five new clients since announcing the trial, haven’t lost any retained clients, and are still in the process of pitching for others we began conversations with during it.
- During the six weeks, we didn’t have one client ‘crisis’ come in on a Friday (or even the weekend) to handle, but we did have multiple media enquiries and requests to deal with. Not one got dropped or was missed, amounting to no more than a few minutes’ work per team member each Friday.
- Each staff member said they’d enjoyed a better work-life balance during the trial, and everybody said they’d felt ‘more relaxed at home as a result of the trial’. All client respondents said they would be comfortable with us incorporating the 4 day work week full-time, beyond the trial.
- Sure, we had the occasional time where a story or campaign didn’t do as well as it should have done, and it led to some firm and frank conversations – let the first agency this hasn’t ever happened to cast the first stone and all that – but, the duration was enough to see that balance out. And we also had some brilliant client and campaign results, entirely unaffected by the trial.
- On that, as much as the data itself has given me the confidence to make the decision to push ahead, the (optional) comment responses have been encouraging.
This from a client:
I think this a BRILLIANT initiative and am very proud to be working with a partner that is trying to push the boundaries on the ‘norm’. We offer a 24/7 support service so this wouldn’t be as easy for us to do, however we are investigating solutions. Go for it, and trail blaze!
And this from a member of staff:
Having an extra day off has meant I can see my family more, which has been amazing. I’ve honestly felt so much more refreshed coming into work at the start of the week. I’ve loved the last six weeks. I’ve had more time to relax, so on a Monday I always feel ready for the week.
As I said in the first blog announcing the trial, I don’t, and never have, run the agency at capacity. I’ve never wanted a single member of the team to be flat-out, instead opting to give people enough time and space to be at their best.
Whenever we win more business that looks like affecting that balance, I hire, and will continue to hire, as necessary. It’s worked well for us to this point, as I’ve long-thought that overworking runs counter to results, especially in an industry where, last year, 60% of people surveyed said they’d experienced mental ill health (this statistic, although from a relatively small sample size of 227, is significantly higher than figures highlighted by Mind).
So, here’s how it’ll work:
- We will work Monday-Thursday
- Staff will be paid the same salary
- Annual leave will be reduced by 20% to 20 days (staff currently get 25 days, plus the 8 bank holidays, plus their birthday off). In a couple of interviews at the start of the trial, this was pointed to as if some sort of ‘catch’… conveniently ignoring the 40+ additional days off…!
- On bank holiday weeks, we will still work four-day weeks (the Friday)
- Lunch hours will become lunch… forty fives 🙂
So, we’re doing this! Wish us luck
Also, now’s as good a time as any – if you’re interested in working with a full-service communications agency that isn’t afraid to try something different, and you’d like a bit of that thinking applied to your own personal profile, business or organisation, read our case studies on the homepage and PR blog. Then, when you’ve had a gander…