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4 min read

4.5-day working week trial: What we are learning so far

One of our values at Impression is being “Open to Change”, so we were excited to begin discussions at the end of 2022 about the potential of trialling a 4.5-day workweek.

After looking at how this could work for us, and discussing it with our clients, we began a trial on 1st March 2023, and this trial period ran for six months.

This trial meant that people would be finishing at 12.30 pm on Fridays, allowing everyone to enjoy a longer weekend. Now, we are over halfway through the trial now and here is what we’ve learnt so far…

Ensure you have clear measures for success

We have certain KPIs that we wanted to maintain during the trial to ensure nothing dipped below our usual standards during this time. We also collected survey data from our people at the halfway point, asking questions about the impact on their workload, their well-being and their overall productivity. 

This also meant that we collected survey data from our clients too. This was to monitor any impact on our service from their side – an important aspect of this was ensuring that communication and expectations were clear. 

We plan to repeat these surveys at the end of the trial, to ensure that we are making a decision based on data. This will help us to understand the factors that would determine the trial a success and that would support our decision-making if we were to make this a permanent change. 

Communication with clients is key

We gave a lot of advanced communication to our clients, to ensure they were fully informed of the change and how they could navigate any challenges that might arise on a Friday afternoon. 

According to the survey data we’ve gathered so far, our clients are not feeling any impact to our service and many have said this has inspired them to consider flexible options for their businesses. 

For our Client Success team, we run check-in calls regularly with our clients, something which is already a part of our business processes. But here we used this opportunity to ensure regular communication and we’d be able to pick up on any issues caused by our reduced working week. Thankfully, we’ve seen a nominal impact so far.

Managing our time can be challenging but rewarding

This was an adjustment for everyone and we all needed to adjust how we prioritised our time management. We had feedback from our team that the 4.5 workweek helped them to focus on themselves. Whether that was saying ‘no’ to a meeting you didn’t feel you needed to be in, or making a meeting an email – we all looked at ways to prioritise our time and ensure we were still operating at our usual levels. And so far, this has been working well across the agency. 

Time off together works

Initially, there was debate over how our reduced hours would be implemented. Suggestions such as a rota or a 9-day fortnight were discussed, but on reflection, everyone agreed that having the same time off altogether (Friday afternoon), would mean that people genuinely did take that time for themselves. 

We had no meetings being scheduled where people were absent or needed to catch up. We had no emails being sent (aside from a few from clients, ready for Monday morning). We had no feelings of pressure to be checking emails when people are off as things carried on without you. It feels like a clean break away from work for the entire business and then the entire business can catch up on Monday morning. 

This works for us, but every business is different. 

Flexibility matters

We were always pro-flexibility when it came to working hours and location, for example, and we have a hybrid culture that reflects this. However, we recognise how this additional flexibility can have a positive impact on diversity within our organisation. For example, the 4.5-day working week can support parents, carers, and people living with disabilities or invisible conditions, to name just a few.  

It’s been delightful to see what activities individuals have been doing on their Friday afternoons off. Time with friends and family, time to exercise, time to travel, time to sort life admin. All of these activities allow our team to be at their best, feeling recharged and ready to go when they log back on Monday. 

In conclusion

We are really seeing the benefits of implementing this trial, and as the trial draws to a close at the end of the Summer, we will be having internal discussions about whether we make this permanent and how we can continue to look for ways to be a progressive and flexible employer.