Improving wellbeing by experimenting with four-day working week in August

By Alex Traska on 1st Aug

Makermet are taking advantage of the summer slow-down in August to run an experiment into wellbeing and productivity in the studio. From Monday 30th July until Friday 31st August we'll be operating a four-day working week for our entire in-house team.

Closing the studio on Fridays gives everyone an extra day to take care of tasks in our lives out of work, and still have a full 'standard' weekend to unwind, or exercise to extend the impact of the experiment beyond mental health to physical health also. We're encouraging the take up of exercise by spending our first Friday off together as a team, hiking in the Derbyshire peak district; designers who've been on long walks to see hills, rivers and green space are better inspired designers. On subsequent weekends, project managers and creative directors who've spent time in the garden with only bees and plants for company find it easier to focus during complex discussions during the week.

Although we will be out of the studio on Fridays, we’ll always have a member of the team available to provide support in the event of any urgent enquiries. We’ve also been planning project schedules around this change for some time now, so there's no changes to any works already arranged - the only challenge is keeping the Friday sacred and avoiding viewing it as an "overflow" day where unfinished work can be tackled!

At the end of the experiment we'll each be reporting on our blog and via LinkedIn the impact (positive or negative) on studio productivity and our own well being. Finally, we'll decide whether we can put into standard practice anything we learned about making changes to the old fashioned working week.

4 Day Work Week Ysp
A team day out at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

What is the expected impact?

August is typically a quieter month in the creative industry. Many of our clients, their employees and our suppliers plan their summer breaks to fit in with the school term, which makes August a juggle of out of office auto responses, delays in sign-offs where multiple team members are involved and difficulty getting everyone on a project in one room. We're also avoiding the standard Friday afternoon slow-down (anyone else's inboxes go eerily silent after 2pm on a Friday during a hot summer?) by simply not having a Friday!

Furthermore, the sun is shining and the positive impact on mental health of being outdoors to enjoy it is well documented. Psychologist Dan Ariely states that Google’s policy of giving employees free reign over one day of their work week makes for “happier, more passionate workers and a better, more creative company.” and we're expecting similar results. The additional five days of "holiday" are not deducted from team member's annual leave records, and there's no change at all to their income.

We're predicting that being given time to balance the mundanities of life with leisure time over a three-day weekend rather than packing it into two will ensure that we're achieving the same productivity in four days, that would usually be achieved over five. Although we expect no overall impact on the quantity and speed at which outputs are reached for clients, we do expect that there may be an improvement in quality (although since this is subjective, it's harder to measure immediately).

Sustainable business practices

Our partnership with ethical lifestyle magazine, pebble, has inspired our own ethical business journey over the past few years. We've already made changes to become a more sustainable business, which you can read about here, and this is another step in looking at the way we work.

Have you experimented with non-traditional ways of working? If so, we’d love to hear how you got on. Tweet us.

About the author

profile-alex

Alex Traska

Creative Director

Original founder and Makermet Director, Alex works directly with clients on all aspects of Makermet's services.

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