We’re a year into the 4-day work week, and there’s no going back
Gussie Peile of Hey Honey recounts the agency’s experience of a four-day workweek. Spoiler alert: they love it.
Agency Hey Honey weighs in on its trial of the four-day workweek / Alex Kotliarskyi via Unsplash
In March 2022, Hey Honey embarked on a trial of a four-day workweek. Inspired by results from global studies, when the UK trial of the four-day workweek with workers at more than 60 UK companies began in June 2022, it felt like the right time for our agency.
In July 2019, the white paper ‘Four Better or Four Worse?’ was published by The University of Reading’s Henley Business School. It explored the four-day workweek business trend and found improvements in staff productivity and happiness. Two-thirds of businesses who had already adopted a four-day working week reported improvements in staff productivity; the research also found that this increased overall quality of life for employees, with over three quarters (78%) of businesses saying staff were happier, less stressed (70%) and took fewer days off ill (62%). Almost two-thirds (63%) of employers said that providing a four-day working week has helped them to attract and retain talent.
As we enter the new financial year, Hey Honey is one of the few agencies in the Netherlands that has completed a trial and fully implemented a four-day workweek for all full-time employees. Trialed across 18 of our full-time employees in the first 6 months of FY23, we started to see improvements in staff happiness. After the first 6 months, we continued the four-day workweek – here’s why.
The four-day workweek, one year in
Hey Honey’s fundamental objective for trialing a four-day workweek was to improve staff quality of life through greater work-life balance. The challenge would be to achieve the same output and results in fewer hours. The benefit of more days off for the team would enable staff to pursue other interests, spend time with friends/family, and have more time to focus on their lives outside of work – all to achieve a better work-life balance.
In addition to the improvements to employee quality of life, the four-day workweek would help us compete with other bigger agencies – attracting talent in an industry where achieving work-life balance has always been a challenge.
Hey Honey has now been on a four-day workweek for a full financial year. 100% of employees were satisfied with the four-day week. When asked “How satisfied are you with the four-day workweek?” 18 respondents answered four/five out of five. Employees also felt that their work-life balance improved.
And, crucially, 82% felt that they had enough time in the week to complete their tasks. For those who did feel time was crunched, it didn’t affect their overall satisfaction with the four-day workweek but pointed to a need to look at and improve processes.
This move does improve both work-life balance and quality of life for the team. Of course, there are still areas to improve; we will continue to develop our agency processes to support our team and to gather more data from clients and employees so we can measure performance in efficiency, output, and business performance metrics.
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5 recommendations for agencies and leadership teams
First, it’s not going to be perfect. The most important point for your team (and clients) to understand is that this is a guideline and a commitment to the well-being and productivity of your team, but life happens and there are going to be moments where work on a Friday is necessary. This does not mean the process is a failure. It’s a reminder that we all have to be flexible.
Next, continuous education. Be sure to show your clients the benefits and rationale of why you have committed to the four-day week; be clear on the process so that they understand what happens on the down day; and continue to learn from them about ways to improve the process.
Third, ensure clear planning and dates. Avoid delivery days on Thursdays and be clear on the goals for the week so that when you sign off for the weekend, to the best of your control, there are no surprises or additional requests that could have been flushed out sooner.
And ensure a consistent point of contact. Always have someone on call; even with the best planning, there will always be something that needs attention, especially in the advertising and digital industries where we’re ‘always on’.
Finally, bring your clients on the journey. You’ve shown them the benefits to your team, so why not give them a taste? Find local volunteer initiatives, exhibitions and events that fall on a Friday. Not only is this a great bonding experience with your client, but you’ll be inspiring and educating them.
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Hey Honey, we're a global social-first creative agency helping connect brands to culture, moments & people. An award-winning agency and team of diverse digital natives, speaking over 10 different languages, concepting creative, and generating outstanding results for brands in EMEA, LATAM, APAC, and beyond. From our headquarters in Amsterdam, we work with brands across the beauty, fashion, tech, and FMCG industries to develop innovative creative, strategy, content production, and 360 campaigns.Find out more