The notion of working eight or more hours a day, five days a week, has been ingrained into our minds, bodies, and system in the UK for decades. Can you even imagine another way of life? At Bigwave Marketing, we can. Putting the health, happiness, and wellbeing of our staff at the forefront of development goals, we are proud to announce that our marketing agency has begun trialling four-day working weeks.
From the beginning of November until the end of January, Bigwave Marketing’s staff have the choice to opt-in or opt-out of the four-day working week trial. To monitor the advantages and disadvantages of the process, we will be asking staff to complete regular surveys so that we can listen to what it is they want and need out of their work life.
The pandemic has seen many businesses adopt the working-from-home notion, and having that extra bit of flexibility and comfort has done wonders to staff productivity and happiness. So, why not take it one step further and adopt something proven to be successful in countries like Iceland, Norway, and Denmark?
Why Adopt a 4-day Working Week?
An extra day off for employees does a whole lot of good. It helps reduce stress, burnout and other symptoms that are a result of overworking. It is especially beneficial for employees who have a lot of personal responsibilities and of course, parents. Employers can gain a lot from their staff by providing them with more freedom and flexibility. It helps boost productivity and performance, as employees are rested and happier from having more time to themselves.
In turn, employees who are happier and healthier are less likely to be absent from work. Whether that’s from physical illnesses, stress, or mental health conditions. Companies who adopt four-day working weeks are also more likely to recruit the best talent, as the notion is desired by many, and it will make those businesses an appealing place to work.
The only downfall to a four-day working week when using the compression approach is fitting contracted hours into four days. This means staff are working longer days and may be too tired to enjoy their extra day off.
In Iceland’s new working week trials, it led unions to renegotiate work patterns and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce has shorter hours for the same pay or will gain the right to. As a result, workers in Iceland reported that it improved their health and work-life balance significantly. Many workforces who participated moved their staff from 40-hour workweeks to 35.
Logistics of a 4-day Working Week
At Bigwave Marketing, we felt it was important to tackle the logistical issues to ensure the four-day working week would work. The process is nitty and gritty and has a risk of complications. To ensure operations run smoothly, we put our heads together and came up with a strategical framework. The senior management team, who oversee six internal departments, organise our staff’s ‘flexi-days’.
Each member of staff who has opted into the trial can have one day off per week, but not the same day in one month. This rule allows our operations to still run smoothly by ensuring a member of the team is available throughout the working week to our clients. It also means no one person can hog a Friday or Monday! As our staff have strong working relationships, all colleagues manage to be flexible with one another.
The staff in the trial work their usual contracted hours, compressing them into the four days they are working. We trialled this in the first few weeks of November and found, from a staff survey, that a large percentage struggled with working an extra 1.93 hours per day, especially those with long commutes. So, we recently announced that from the beginning of December, we will introduce core working hours for those in the trial to add flexibility.
The core working hours will be between 9:30 am and 3 pm, where all staff must be working. Outside of those hours, they can choose how and when they work provided they are still working their contracted hours. As an example – they can work for five hours, break for two, and then work for another five. This structure has had positive feedback and will enable staff to have longer breaks and flexibility around their start and end times if they choose to.
For clients, it also means we have core hours when all staff are available, and through our internal workflows, we can provide support and service outside of these too – meaning clients should notice no change in our normal service provision.
A Happy and Equal Workplace
Compressing or even cutting down staff hours isn’t detrimental to companies. Studies continually show that staff are happier and more productive, which often boosts the quality of work and increases both productivity and financial results. By working smarter, clients can experience an enhanced or speedier service with no drop-in service standards. Last year at Bigwave Marketing, we cut down hours for all staff by 2.5 hours a week, from 40 to 37.5.
We believe that a four-day working week is worth exploring. More are realising (especially after the pandemic) the benefits of remote working and flexibility. Happy employees increase the likelihood of them wanting to be long-term team members.