ITR Partners took the shortened week idea and ran with it, creating their own version. So how have they got on?
Should we all be working a four-day week?
More than 70 companies in the UK have been trying it out, taking part in a nationwide trial set to report its findings any day now. The results will soon be clear when we see how many adopt a four-day working week permanently.
Cheltenham-based IT recruitment specialists ITR Partners introduced their flexible working approach just over a year ago and have decided to put their own spin on it to better suit their team.
Instead of the condensed four-day week, the recruitment agency decided to introduce an extra half day. Director Greg Evans explains, “Although we love the idea of a 4-day week, we tend to find most of our recruitment processes close off on a Friday. Additionally, Friday is a favoured day for office attendance, and our close-knit team genuinely love to head out to lunch together to celebrate their week, which is why we chose a half day over a full one.”
“We then build towards having every ‘pay-day Friday’ off work for everyone if the office is on target,” he continues. “Where possible we like to reward individual performance, of course, but we find that celebrating as a team creates a more positive atmosphere and cultivates team energy.”
Over the year, the ITR team have successfully hit their targets in 10 out of 12 months – which adds up to around 44 half-days for the team.
However, with success comes challenges and ITR’s team members are not afraid to share their honest experience about introducing a shorter week.
Take Delivery Manager Jack Axton for example, who recently celebrated his five-year work anniversary at ITR:
“Naturally, there are always pros and cons with a shorter working week,” he says. “On a positive note, it offers us all an opportunity to develop a strong work/life balance where weekend getaways can be extended, the team can enjoy a social together or run a few errands that they wouldn’t want to do on the weekend. In recruitment, wins are often measured in monetary value, but time is also a precious commodity, so having the chance to also earn this is a good motivator for many. It also allows us to work in a slightly more agile way as a business, as we can achieve success based on a weekly output. All those that achieve this, are rewarded with extra time off.
“Putting my sceptical hat on, the reality is that we’re in a midst of an economic recession which will inevitably cause instability in the job market. It’s a time where output is at its most critical and in order to hit the targets we’ve set within ITR, every consultant needs to push themselves to their optimum. We found setting the 4.5 day week as a combined incentive often led to over-performers hitting the targets the company needs to have Friday afternoon off. However, for those who were not contributing, it meant they were still taking advantage of the incentive when their time was probably best served working to improve their own performance.
He adds, “I’m firmly of the mindset that success should be quantified by small wins to build up to sustained success, so if this can be rewarded by giving time back to consultants, then I’m all for it. I’ve personally had more time to spend with friends and family, crack on with house renovations and have dinner on the table for when my other half gets home.”
Future plans include splitting teams into smaller groups so that a 4½ day working week is even more achievable. ITR also plans to set self-objectives to ensure that those deserving are being rewarded fairly in an autonomous environment.