Staff wellbeing and productivity has improved at the Kent-based digital marketing agency Reflect Digital six months after introducing a 4-day work week.

Figures show staff wellbeing, happiness and productivity has improved at the Kent-based digital marketing agency, Reflect Digital, six months on from introducing a 4-day work week.

CEO Becky Simms implemented the move in October last year in a bid to improve work-life balance stating, at the time, “it’s the right thing to do”.

Figures measured by Office Vibes show that staff wellness has increased by 26% over the six months while job satisfaction and relationships with peers all improved significantly, with overall happiness increasing by 38%. 

There was also a 22% increase in productivity from October to March and the company has just finished their best year ever - with revenue up 20% on last year.

The stats have been released the same day as the Australian app maker, Versa, announced positive results of their 12 month 4-day work week trial where staff do not work Wednesdays. 

Last Summer, a New Zealand-based company also hit the headlines after announcing that its six-week pilot allowing all 200 employees to work a four-day week, while getting paid for five, would become a permanent initiative after proving to be a huge success.

Just this week also saw the formation of Labour 4 Day Week, a member-led group that seeks to push the demand within Labour for a reduction of working time without loss of pay. 

Becky Simms, who founded Reflect Digital eight years ago, said:

“Back in the summer my business partner and husband, Paul, and I were taking time to consider our culture and where we wanted the business to go. 

“We have always led from the front in terms of work ethic and we had a lovely culture, but we wanted to do something different. 

“We were also keen to look at how we could support our team’s mental health, in a fast-paced environment like an agency, having the right amount of downtime is key to keeping our team at their best.

“We looked at lots of different initiatives from unlimited holiday to no structure to the working hours. 

“From our research unlimited holiday drives team members to take less holiday as they tend to feel guilty, we definitely did not want this outcome. 

“The unstructured work hours makes collaboration really difficult and that is part of what makes Reflect Digital great – our people and the ways in which we work together.

“So we ended up at the idea of a 4-day week, which from research had worked really well at a New Zealand business and there were other case studies in places like Sweden.

“To us, when we talked about it in practice it quite quickly felt like a ‘no-brainer’. 

“We have not cut our hours, we still work 37.5 hours a week, we just do slightly longer days with the bonus of a full day off – work hard / play hard!

“The 4-day week is totally optional and we are open 5 days a week based on how we split the days between Mondays and Fridays. 

“Your day off has to be a Monday or Friday as it is important that the person is getting a three day weekend.

“The longer days work really well and genuinely everyone is more productive. 

“First or last thing in the day, when there is less client contact, allows all of us to really knuckle down and really has made a tangible impact on our productivity.

“We also measure our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) score measured by Office Vibes which has gone up 216% from before we launched in September 2018 to April 2019.

“We believe this has had a positive impact on our clients too as happier, more motivated staff will produce better results.”

“Staff now have more time to relax and enjoy timeout of work to do what they love.

“For me it’s all about the work-life balance and making sure staff recharge their batteries and get that 3 day weekend

“Myself and our Head of Technical at Reflect recently completed a mental health first aider course and off the back of that we are now going to be doing sessions to encourage people to talk openly about their mental wellbeing if they want to.”

Picture: Becky Simms, CEO at Reflect Digital

Gemma Kane, Senior Account Manager at Reflect Digital, said the switch has completely changed her work-life balance. She said:

"I think it's made me so much more productive.

"I think the vibe in the office has changed, I think there are a few different things where it's had a knock-on effect and I look forward to Mondays.

"Monday's my day off so I always look forward to Mondays rolling around, I can't wait for my long weekend basically."

Gemma has used her spare time to run a women's martial arts class every Monday morning.

She said: "The biggest thing for me is that I get dedicated time to myself on a Monday and I know it's coming round.

"It also changes my weekend, so things that I don't have to cram in at the weekend, I get to spend time with my other half and then Monday it's just me because I'm the only one at home.

"So, it's given me back loads of extra time back to do the things that I kind of want to do but also it's meant that I can start new things that I never would have been able to do before like the daytime classes."

How does a 4-day working week work?

  • Reflect Digital is open 5 days a week.
  • Staff take either a Monday or Friday off so they get a 3 day weekend.
  • There is cover every day of the week across every team, our team members divide their days off accordingly to ensure customer service is still our number one priority.
  • Staff are paid the same salary.
  • Lunch hours remain the same.

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