My staff work a four-day week and are much more productive

If I told you that my staff are the most productive they’ve ever been, you’d probably ask how I managed to make them work more.

The 1,300 people in 17 offices we have across the globe are the happiest at work they’ve reported as being, all because we allow them to work a four-day week, while being paid for five.

And the same amount of work is being done as before, just in less time.

That’s why I think companies should absolutely trial a four-day working week – because our results speak for themselves.

I run a digital marketing platform – we help brands to sell goods and services online, we connect them to larger audiences through digital advertising that’s purely based on performance. 

In 2021, we drove about £12billion worth of sales for clients – so as you can imagine, our colleagues need to be at the top of their game.

But when the pandemic hit in 2020, everything changed. As everyone went remote, we saw the huge pressure that was being placed on people, especially those who had kids and had to deal with homeschooling.

Because of the blurred lines between work and home life, people tended to start earlier and finish later. Something had to change.

We introduced a concept called Family Fridays, which was effectively a four and a half day week – we told staff that we were going to shut down business on Friday afternoons and give them time to be with their family to deal with the pressures of Covid-19.

For those who didn’t have a family, it was their chance to take a breather and get to grips with what was going on in the world.

The overwhelming response from the staff was hugely positive and after monitoring performance for three months, we saw that the initiative actually had made no negative impact whatsoever.

We hadn’t had complaints about bad service. The company was doing really well, people were happier, what more could you want? So, we decided to test it further.

In January 2021, we started a six month trial of a four-day working week, complete with pay reflecting five days of work. We told the team that it was up to them to make it work if they wanted it to be a permanent feature.

We needed to maintain a five-day service, because we had lots of clients who didn’t operate on a four-day week so they needed to be able to speak to us.

We’ve achieved record performances in terms of our output but also a massive uptick in staff happiness

Within their teams, staff managed to maintain a five day service – some took Fridays off, some took Wednesdays, while some took Mondays, and it rotated.

But it wasn’t just that the same amount of work was being done as before – more was being achieved.

We actually extended the trial for another year – and then it just kept on going. Why? Because it works.

We’ve achieved record performances in terms of our output, but also a massive uptick in staff happiness.

We suddenly had people taking less sick days. Where we could measure it, we saw either the same levels of productivity or greater levels of productivity as a result of the four-day working week.

Anybody would say it’s not logical, that if you put less hours in, you’re going to see improvements. But actually, people work smarter and they’re able to drive greater levels of productivity because of that.

It’s saying to people, ‘here’s the greatest incentive you could ever want, we’re going to give you back time, and we’re going to pay you the same.’

And then they come up with ways to become more efficient – it’s been fantastic to see.

But don’t take my word for it, our most recent staff surveys showed that 86% of people feel they’re more productive, 70% feel that they’re less stressed, and 70% feel that the quality of their work has improved.

And in terms of wellbeing, 92% of people said it has helped improve their mental health, 94% feel that that work-life balance has improved and 87% feel it has helped them improve their physical health.

People are completely free to choose what they do on their extra day of free time, but they do brilliant things with their lives. Some are doing masters if they want to further their education, others are just using it for exercise, while some spend it with their family. Whatever they’re doing, it’s making them happier and work better.

It’s been phenomenal. It translates in practice.

Crucially, 74% of people say they would now struggle to go back to a traditional five-day week.

But why should they? Why should any of us?

If you want to be a good employer, your staff need to know you care. We had certain prerequisites that made this very successful for us – you’ve got to base your relationship with your employees on trust.

So many businesses don’t do that and it’s almost a traditional way to run from the position of mistrust. Companies believe that employees are trying to get one over on them, they’re trying to slack off, employers feel like they need to see employees at their desks.

If they’re working in this type of mentality and attitude, if there’s any of that in your culture, then this is not going to work.

But for businesses that do operate that way, this is a phenomenal way to give back freedom and balance in their lives, while still maintaining great performance at work.

Most people actually want to do a good job and we need to stop setting the rules based on the few that don’t. The majority of staff want to progress in life and so, if we give them the chance, they find ways to work better and work smarter.

And staff stay with you, our employee retention has never been better.

Oh and our clients? They’ve reported a 25% increase in their satisfaction rate with us. They weren’t just accepting of it, there was a lot of support.

I’ve had a lot of funny meetings with clients where they’ve brought along their boss to talk about the four-day week at the beginning of the meeting, to try and convince them to consider it for themselves.

Life has changed from when the five day working week was first introduced at the start of the 19th century, it’s about time we changed too.

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