Wednesday January 1 2014

Company’s four-day week inspired by Gambian model

Company’s four-day week inspired by Gambian model

A professional services group has introduced a four-day working week with a view to boosting productivity and improving its employees’ work-life balance. 
Cheshire-based Optionis has given employees the chance to work a ‘condensed’ week over four days and take either Mondays or Fridays off.
Managing director Derek Kelly decided to permit specific departments to trial the new arrangement earlier this year, after reading that the West African state of Gambia had switched to a four-day week for public sector workers.
Following extensive consultation, staff working across several head office functions including IT, human resources and marketing have now switched permanently to a four-day model.
The new arrangement sees employees who opted to take up the offer working 8am-6pm for four days, instead of 9am-5pm from Monday to Friday.
“I have never understood why, in this country, we are so closely wedded to the Monday to Friday, ‘9 till 5’ working week”, said Kelly.
“Reading about the changes in Gambia made me think – why can’t we do this here?
“A four-day week has so many benefits in terms of an individual’s work-life balance. Giving someone a day off in the week allows them extra time to run errands, socialise and pursue hobbies and interests. 
“The feedback from our staff has been overwhelmingly positive. People are telling us they feel more refreshed coming into work after a three-day weekend, and more focused when they are in work.
“Anecdotally, we’re starting to see improvements in productivity and output from those departments that have moved to four days. 
“For us, this is a powerful talent retention and attraction tool, as well as a means of making us more efficient and productive as an organisation. 
“That’s not to mention the environmental and personal benefits of cutting the weekly commute by a day. For the four days an employee is in work, they will also avoid the worst of the rush-hour traffic by starting earlier and finishing later.”
Optionis, which provides support services to small businesses, recruitment firms and freelancers, employs more than 250 staff across offices in Warrington, Greater Manchester, Dorset and London.
The group is home to outsourced employment services provider Parasol, contractor and small business support specialist ClearSky and cloud-based sales performance management software Silverline.
Employee benefit packages include private healthcare, childcare vouchers, paid time off for volunteer work, free gym membership, free fruit and a complimentary lunch once a month.  


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