In 2022 we took the bold move to introduce a 4.5 day work week and we’re often asked about how the change has worked. So we’ve answered the top 10 questions we’re always asked in his handy FAQ guide. Useful for those considering a similar scheme.
1) What motivated you to try a reduced working hours week?
Strange was founded 23 years ago, back when there were only a handful of specialist digital agencies and over the years we’ve always tried hard to be innovative with our work in digital marketing and web development. We’ve always been innovative with many of the employee benefits our team enjoys as we always want the best and brightest working for us. This scheme is just an evolution of these benefits and feedback so far has, not surprisingly, been great.
2) Are people paid the same for working 4.5 days as they are for 5 days?
Yes absolutely. No changes to basic terms of employment have been made and of course salaries are not adjusted downwards. The main objective of this benefit is help make Strange the best agency to work for, not to reduce our operating costs.
3) How are the employment contracts handled?
Our employment contracts still stipulate a 37.5 hrs work week, so essentially we have just informally decided to allow staff to have 3.75 hrs (½ day) off per week paid at their normal salary rate. As the scheme has been communicated as a trial, we are able to extend the trial as necessary.
4) Are people more productive?
Productivity is certainly one measure that we monitor, but for us it’s been more important to make sure we continue to meet all our campaign deadlines and project launch dates. We haven’t seen a significant increase or decrease in productivity and it hasn’t led to people working longer hours during the rest of the week to compensate.
5) Do people work later on the days they do work?
We haven’t seen this. As an agency, we’ve never been about how many hours you put in and we actively encourage a good work life balance. From internal data the percentage of people working some extra hours a few times in a month has remained consistent.
6) What about client deadlines? How are they managed?
We’re really client focused and client commitments are at the centre of all our planning so we’ve been able to manage delivery of work relatively easily. We meet daily as a team to make sure we deliver on our commitments. And of course our team is good at what we do, so we naturally make sure we get the work done.
We’ve got some simple rules in place to make sure deadlines are met and we’ve been encouraged that people self-regulate their hours very well. And when it’s needed, people are happy to work a regular week when they need to.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of the team rarely use the benefit and prefer to work all week. So on average approximately 30% of team work the full week.
7) What are the basic rules of your scheme?
We’ve implemented some simple and easy to follow rules to make sure our clients’ work is never impacted and that the benefit is fair to all people.
These ground rules were implemented at the start of the trial and they’re worked out pretty well.
- The half day isn’t treated as annual leave. Unlike annual leave, half days aren’t something that can be bought or sold, accrued or paid out like annual leave.
- Half days shouldn’t be used to lengthen another booked holiday – either at the start or the end. This is particularly important if people are travelling long distances, going abroad etc.
- Half days can only be taken during a full week of work. So for example if there is a bank holiday, then the half day can’t be taken.
- Half days get booked and approved via the normal holiday booking system which everyone can access and to see who is working when. This keeps the process simple and helps ensure there is always an appropriate level of coverage within teams.
8) Are people more happy?
On the whole people are more happy than before the scheme was introduced. We measure several factors to help gauge the welfare and wellbeing of the team as part of the annual review cycle and it’s been interesting to see how some of these scores have changed over the year
We’ve seen positive improvements for the following areas;
- How likely are you to recommend Strange as an employer
- How happy are you in your role
- How stressed do you feel about your work
Interestingly, and perhaps a factor of some shorter weeks, we’ve seen flat scores for;
- Work life balance
- How often do you work outside of the business day
9) What are some of the other benefits of the scheme?
With this benefit allowing for an extra 20 or so days paid holidays over the year, it has allowed people to really maximise the benefit of the normal holiday allowance and to take full advantage of the other holiday benefits we have. It’s allowed more people to sell back unused holidays or roll over unused holidays to the next year.
This has allowed people to use their annual leave for… well… annual leave… and not have much of it taken up with the more mundain things that seem to eat away at our leisure time these days.
10) Would you consider going to a 4 day week?
We’ve thought about it, but we’re not sure we’re ready to go that far. We think we’ve got the balance just right at the moment.
Feedback on our benefits package is very good. We operate a predominantly work from home environment with occasional days in the office to suit, people can choose their start and end times each day, we’ve got a very generous holiday programme with additional paid holiday for things like volunteering. We’ve even got a work from home bonus that helps fund utility charges to help soften the increase in living costs.
But we always keep these things under review and will always make decisions based on what’s right for our clients and at the same time try to balance that with what helps our team.
If you’d like any further details of our scheme, or you’re considering options for your next agency, please do get in touch.