PR agency implements four-day week after successful trial

Medical comms consultancy Synergy Vision is making its four-day working week permanent, saying the move made staff happier, less anxious and more productive during a six-month trial - while clients reported no adverse impact.

Synergy says its four-day working week made staff more productive (©GettyImages)
Synergy says its four-day working week made staff more productive (©GettyImages)

The initiative, which was trialled for six months from December 2018, is designed to promote a healthier work-life balance for staff and help the agency reduce the use of freelancers.

The pilot saw all staff working 36 hours over four days, compared to 40 hours previously, for the same salary and holiday allowance. Individuals usually have the same day off weekly to help with workload planning.

Synergy said its monthly employee survey in May 2019 found 97 per cent of staff reported happiness levels of at least seven out of 10. That's up from 70 per cent in in November 2018, before the trial launched.

The proportion who put their happiness level at nine or 10 rose from 12 per cent in November to 51 per cent in May.

Meanwhile, the proportion of employees who strongly agree they have a positive work-life balance more than doubled during the pilot, from 23 per cent at the beginning of the trial to 48 per cent at the end.

The proportion who said work intrudes on their home or social life fell from 65 per cent to 45 per cent.

Sixty-five percent of participants reported working overtime before the trial started, which dropped to just under 50 per cent at the end.

Synergy said staff positivity about the four-day week started at around 97 per cent, dipped to 89 per cent in the second month amid ‘teething troubles’, and rose to 100 per cent by May 2019.

The agency said half of staff had no issues with the change and, of those that did, simple measures solved the problems. The steps included nominating one ‘core day’ a week when everyone works, sharing inboxes, and improving booking and tracking systems and resource planning.

MD Eileen Gallagher said: "We’re thrilled to be at the forefront of the 4DW [four-day week] movement, particularly given the demands that our sector often puts on work-life balance.

"We had considered the pros and cons of a 4DW at length and were expecting to have to adapt. Ultimately, because we were all open to challenging existing processes, the adjustments were minimal. It really demonstrates that 'where there’s a will, there’s a way'.

"What’s great is that clients have been so supportive, even with some trepidation. Following our pilot, we are delighted to say that none have reported any concerns as a result of the new working patterns."

Radioactive PR introduced a four-day working week last year. Boss Rich Leigh told PRWeek in June 2019 that one year later, it found turnover grew 70 per cent year-on-year, while profit improved marginally.

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