London event agency Timebased Events has been one of the first to implement a four-day work week - and it's already bearing fruit, as founder Richard Dodgson explains
The four-day work week might be all the rage now as employees dream of a time when three-day weekends are the norm.
Many businesses will, quite rightly, be weighing up the pros and cons of making a drastic change to working hours – with the obvious staff and productivity benefits potentially curtailed by the impact it could have on a business.
But demand is growing – the Trades Union Congress (TUC) trade union recently found that 45% of people would be in favour of it and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is among the political supporters.
One of the companies to take the plunge early on is London events agency Timebased Events.
Founder and creative director Richard Dodgson believes a four-day work week is already bearing fruit – as he explains here.
How best to amend the working week
As with most things, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to adapting the traditional working week.
There are a range of variables that companies need to take into consideration – most importantly the industry they’re in and how changes will impact their customers.
For instance, customer service or care-giving companies can’t afford to only be contactable or operating for 80% of the week, without severe implications for business operations and the company’s reputation.
This doesn’t mean a four-day week is impossible, just that they need to be smarter about the changes they implement.
In order to meet customer needs, some businesses have introduced a shift rotation system.
How a fertility company adopted a four-day work week
IVF company Access Fertility is one of those following this structure.
To ensure it can meet its duty of care to patients, the business has increased working hours from 8am to 6om and given employees rotating days off each week.
Not only has this benefited staff, but patients who can now take advantage of longer opening hours.
Businesses that have less emphasis on patient care or customer service may however benefit from flexi hour schemes.
By increasing working hours, employees may then benefit from being offered rotating Fridays – commonly agreed as the least productive day of the week – off work.
We offer this through our optional alternative hours scheme, which ensures the office is still staffed on Fridays so we’re able to answer clients and queries, without affecting business operations.
The benefits of a four-day work week
Contrary to Elon Musk’s argument that you must work over 80 hours a week to reach peak productivity, many businesses who have moved to four-day working weeks see increased efficiency.
This is thanks to improved levels of focus among staff, brought about by their understanding that they must work at an optimal pace to complete their work in less time, and the recharge of an extra day off.
The increased time to unwind is also vital for businesses whose success is reliant on staff having the head space to be creative.
This was a key motivator for the introduction of our four-day work week, as we didn’t want the long working hours and overtime during event build up to affect employee imagination.
Since implementing the change two years ago, we’ve noticed improved creativity from our staff, resulting in better quality events and in turn more business.
For employees personally, a four-day work week hugely decreases stress levels and improves general happiness by delivering greater work-life balance.
It means more quality time with friends and family, an opportunity to travel, learn new hobbies or restart old ones.
This is often valued over a higher salary and results in improved job satisfaction and reduced staff turnover.
Access Fertility’s success, as well as our own, shows that with proper planning, business operations need not suffer – and can even improve – when non-traditional working weeks are embraced.
Furthermore, these changes improve employees’ personal well-being, creating happier staff that deliver a higher quality of work and are more loyal to their employer.