Business

Work half a day less with no loss of pay

That's what Kent-based company is doing in a bid to improve staff well-being

A Kent-based digital marketing agency has this month (May 2021) made the transition to a 4.5 day working week for its full team of employees – without asking them to sacrifice any of their salaries.

This shift sees its staff working from Monday until Friday lunchtime, with Friday afternoons off. The move is a result of a culmination of findings from the past 12 months, including how a reduction in work hours each week has had little to no measurable impact on overall output and results.

While working hours have been reduced by 10%, the Patch agency will keep each staff member’s salary at 100% of their full-time pay. Both lunch break durations and annual leave allowances also remain consistent with their previous five-day week. This evolution is intended to boost the well-being of team members by giving them back more free time without compromising on wages, helping to raise overall ‘quality of life’.

One of the biggest factors for spurring on this change has been Covid. With the introduction of lockdown as well as broad reductions in client budgets in March 2020, the team was moved onto a four-day week with four-day salaries to match. During this period, Patch saw the benefits of having a better rested team who were more fulfilled in their personal lives. The company only saw a 4% reduction in total output compared with five-day weeks, despite time at work being reduced by 20%. The only problem was the reduction in employee salaries which was, in turn, impacting overall happiness and lifestyles.

Simply being human

Jackson Clark, founder at Patch, says: “Since 2017, we have worked off the system that every employee was allocated 30 hours of fee-earning work for each 37.5-hour week. We recognise that once you factor in time for admin and simply being human each day, there are only about six hours of the working day to be genuinely productive in.

“Behind the scenes, we had been considering the four-day working week for quite some time. What held us back was trying to establish a fair way to allocate fee-earning hours to the team while accounting for wastage and admin, and still fitting it all into four days. We wanted to avoid losing the ‘breathing space’ our team benefits from since this can lead to fatigue, and almost always results in a loss of time and productivity anyway.

“Ultimately, we concluded that if every team member had fewer hours in the office, they would be more efficient and there would be less wastage. That’s why I’m delighted to be able to say that from May 1 Patch company salaries are at 100%, while the working week has been reduced by 10%.

“Patch employees now receive the same salary as they did last year for working full-time, on just four-and-a-half-days per week.”

Could other companies learn from this, I wonder?

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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