'Duvet days are attracting a lot of interest currently, but we introduced ours six years ago. We don't measure whether they work, but, in a sense, that's the point - a small commitment to people which doesn't need a complex, big brother evaluation. Technology PR is demanding and we can only work effectively if team members are energised and feel looked after. Of course, duvet days are only one aspect of the 'feel good' factor; we take an interest in the development of all our staff, from training to cultural pursuits. If that means taking the entire company to Oxford or Brighton for the day (orienteering around pubs), that is exactly what we do.'
'I'm not convinced duvet days are likely to enhance the industry's credibility. The concept amounts to little more than an honest sickie or short-notice holiday. Either way, duvet days are likely to have a negative effect on colleagues who will be left to do the work. The real issue to be addressed is the imbalance in our society between work and private life. There is evidence to suggest people work harder than ever and this is taking its toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. This requires a more serious response than duvet days Employers should invest in flexible working hours and job shares. Addressing the imbalance between work and social life would mean we no longer need gimmicks such as duvet days.'
PLEUN VAN AKKERVEEKEN
The Body Shop International
'In a word, no. We all have days during the week when we'd rather stay in bed but in an industry like PR this isn't feasible. PR practitioners have a responsibility to be available to press, clients or employers within the working day, and duvet days cause an unacceptable level of disruption and inefficiency, especially if there's a press deadline to meet or a story breaks unexpectedly. In this environment, the workload falls to others in the team, who are put under unnecessary pressure. That's not fair. A genuine sick day is okay, because none of us can help falling ill from time to time. However, it is reasonable for an employer to expect a certain level of self-discipline and commitment. Introducing duvet days just indulges people's weaknesses and could actually affect productivity in the long-term.'
'If we are to be taken seriously the answer must be 'No'! Our industry's critics already think PROs are pampered, cosseted and isolated enough - without any further need to wrap in even more layers of 15 tog duck-down at will. In my area, duvet days simply would not work. The needs of global businesses, quoted companies and corporate crises happen when they do. They won't wait for a consultant's bio-rhythms to be in sync enough for them to poke their nose out from under the bedclothes and join the rest of the working planet. Availability is key. That said, like Naomi Campbell, I don't get out of bed for less than pounds ... etc etc anyway! PR lunches, however, are a different thing altogether - they're networking, of course, not laziness.'