Exploring the 4 day work week

Written by
Salve Salvana

Every month we invite people working in the creative industry to share their views and opinions on a different theme concerning the creative working world.

This fortnight we're exploring the 4-day work week. As researchers are measuring its impact on thousands of British workers currently involved in a UK pilot programme, we spoke to Theo Krish, Co-Founder of Sounds Like These and Wei Prior, Director at Cha Chaan Teng to find out how they're getting on.

Theo Krish, Co-Founder of Sounds Like These

What is your current approach to the 4-day work week?

Our studios are closed on Wednesdays until the end of November, with the aim being that if the trial is successful (fingers crossed!) we will continue this as part of our business for the long term. I have set up automated out of offices for everyone on the team, so clients receive a message saying we're off for 'Wellness Wednesdays' if they email us, or a voicemail message if they call our studio phone!

Why did you implement this policy?

We knew we were working too hard, and people were continuously up against it all year round. I burnt out heavily a few years ago and had to take a lot of time off work to reevaluate things. Since then I have strived to make sure that no one else in our team ever has to go through that. We are also a company of friends who set up our own studio to be creative and make music together! However somewhere along the way we realised we weren't spending much time making music.

When we heard about the 4 Day Week Campaign, we jumped at the chance to be a part of something official. It makes such a difference to know you're on the same journey with loads of other companies, and we've had a lot of training with mentors from other organisations who have successfully switched to a 4-day week. Essentially it gave us the kick we needed because there is a sense of community and accountability doing it with 70 other companies.

Having the Wednesday off gives people a chance to be creative on their own terms, whether that's making their own music or practising an instrument, reading a book in the park or chilling out on the sofa. We also started a book club of ‘The Artist's Way’, and Wednesdays are the perfect time to take yourself on an ‘Artist's Date’ (1hr of solo creative time, filling the well of inspiration). Since we run our own business, we realised we should have the benefit of choosing how we work. It's our responsibility to make sure everyone in the team is well rested, happy and enjoying their work, otherwise there's no way we'll be doing this in ten or twenty years’ time.

What difference has it made to your company?

So far it's made a huge difference. Splitting the week down the middle is great, since you never have to work more than 2 days in a row. By the time Friday comes around people are less burnt out and actually looking forward to being active over the weekend, rather than counting down the days until they can sleep and recover. Morale is definitely higher and it just feels more sustainable long term. Plus, the fact we're paid for the day off means you don't carry the guilt of ‘I should be working and earning’. It's very freeing.

Do you think the 4-day week will work long-term for your business?

So far we're pretty confident that we'll be able to keep up the 4-day week in the long run. Our clients have been super supportive (and a bit jealous!) and we're currently managing to get everything done that we need to. We'll have to wait until the end of the 6-month trial to get the stats (the 4 Day Week Campaign send round surveys at the beginning, middle and end of the trial, to track everything from turnover to staff happiness), but hopefully the data will show a positive improvement all round and we'll be able to make this a permanent thing!

Wei Prior, Director at Cha Chaan Teng

What is your current approach to the 4-day work week?

We work from Monday through to Thursday!

Why did you implement this policy?

As a designer, I like to explore new methods of working. So I guess you could look at the studio as a project, exploring progressive forms of working. The 4-day work week is important because it keeps us from burning out and enables us to work more efficiently. For a team of three, it can be hard to believe how much we get done between us in four days. It also allows the team to develop their individual practices and situate themselves within the industry both independently and within a studio.

What difference has it made to your company?

Good vibes and high work output!

How does your team feel about it?

Here’s what Char said: “It allows for a much better work to life balance, I can pursue personal practices and hobbies more in my free time whilst also making us more efficient in the days we are working. We don’t take on less projects now that we are 4 days, we just work to a new timeframe. I think our studio is good at planning and allocating time for projects efficiently enough that we don’t actually lose time, we just do more with it.”

And here’s what Sam said: “An extra day can be extremely beneficial mentally and physically. We feel more refreshed and proactive by the time Monday comes around. For a creative, blocks and burnout happen all the time. If we have an extra day to explore beyond studio walls, we end up visually experiencing more whilst (hopefully) de-stressing simultaneously. This could just be a sub conscious thing but it helps to not sit in a chair all day since we can get outside for an extra day.”

Do you think the 4-day week will work long-term for your business?

It definitely works for us and our practice, but we also started out this way (more or less). I can imagine it being a bit harder to shift gears if a company's structures depend on an existing 5-day week. One thing that people tend to ask is ‘Do clients get annoyed by the structure?’ And the answer is no. In fact I’m still surprised how accommodating the people we work with are.

On our radar

Some further reading on the themes explored in this article:

“I can’t think of any negatives”: How the four-day working week could change agency life: Mitchel White explores how the four-day working week could be the best foot forward for our increasingly burned out creative industry for It's Nice That. (March 2022)

What one Dropbox team learned from trying a 4-day workweek: A Dropbox team shares us some of their learnings from their 2020 trail by Sally Zhang. (October 2020)

Will design studios embrace the four-day work week?: Henry Wong talks with various design studios through the complexities behind the shorter work week for Design Week. (May 2022)

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The If You Could Jobs Journal is a space for the creative community to share their views and opinions into the creative working world. If you're interested in contributing in the future please get in touch hello@ifyoucouldjobs.com.

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