Behind the scenes with AMA: 4-Day Week pilot. Blog 2 – the midway point.

Behind the scenes with AMA: 4-Day Week pilot. Blog 2 – the midway point.

By Danielle Patrick


Head of Operations and Events at Arts Marketing Association (AMA), Danielle Patrick takes us behind the scenes as we trial a 4-day week. In the second of three blogs that follow the trial, Dani shares progress across the first three months including practical changes, impacts and feedback from the team.

Sharing our 4-day Week journey so far

In the first post, I shared what we meant by a ‘4-day week’, why we’d decided to trial it, and how our trial was going to work in practice. If you haven’t seen that blog yet, it would be a great place to start before reading this one.

Following our first post, we’ve had a huge amount of interest in our trial. The stats on our LinkedIn post were around 50% higher compared to other posts, and one of our most social team members, Lewis - our Member Community Manager - has had our lovely members asking about it or mentioning it non-stop. Here’s what Lewis has to say about some of our member’s feedback, including some interesting thoughts:  

"Everywhere I've been over the past few months, people have wanted to talk about it. They’ve been really supportive of us, commenting that they think it's a great idea, but some don't think it could work for them in their organisation. This was generally because of the variety of different roles on different hours and contract types or the need for meeting with external stakeholders across the week.

Although, when I explain that we are doing it as a 32-hour week, so that hours can be worked as shorter days instead of fewer days, they comment on how that would be a lot easier to implement into their place of work.”

We’ve loved seeing how curious our members have been about the trial, and it’s clear that people are keen to know more, as they don’t believe it’s a possibility for their organisation. This comment is so interesting, as it’s exactly what I thought before we floated the idea as a team. We were already very flexible, we already had part-time team members, we needed to be available to our members all week - it couldn’t really work for us, could it?  

The 4-day week in practice  

For this blog post, we’d like to share some more of the practical things we’ve been doing since the trial started, along with some of the impacts and feedback from our team. We’ll be as transparent as we can throughout this process so that you can see how things are and aren’t working for us. We hope that it can help to reframe some of your thinking about your own organisation, and maybe see a glimmer of what might be possible in the future.  

We're now halfway through our 4-day week trial after starting in October - so how has it been going so far? 

Firstly, and maybe quite obviously to say, we all love it. Generally as a team, working fewer hours for the same level of pay (or the same hours for more pay, for our team who were already part-time) is something we’re all on board with. This high level of buy-in is a great starting point and means that we’re all committed to putting in the time to make this trial work. It can occasionally feel counter-intuitive to be adding additional time for discussions and group sessions about reducing our working time, but we know that taking the time now to test, learn and adapt will pay dividends in the future.

Optimising meetings 

As a starting point we focused on optimising our meetings. Our team highlighted this was a key area of concern, as like most organisations, we have a lot of meetings. Following some great training with the Work Time Reduction Centre of Excellence (who very much do what they say on the tin), we implemented a few changes: 

  • Length: We reviewed the length of our meetings and built in small breaks between back-to-back meetings. We now aim to not start or finish meetings on the hour which helps to break up that constant rush of finishing one meeting and jumping straight into the next. 
  • Structure: We introduced a standardised meeting agenda template which is used for meetings of three or more people. The person leading the meeting puts the agenda together, shares it at least three days in advance, adds any prep that people need to do, and most importantly, adds in estimated timings to each of the agenda points.

This improves planning and time management and is helping us to be more realistic about the amount we're trying to cover and how long things take. Our project meetings are now mostly running to time (usually 50 minutes) but our 1-to-1 meetings still regularly run over, so that’s next for us to think about.  

  • Timing:  At our first training session, we learnt that energy levels and productivity ebbs and flows throughout a typical working day.  We've scheduled meetings based on energy levels, reserving early morning for focussed work and having check-ins later in the day. We’re getting better at understanding the different types of work we’re doing, and when it makes sense to schedule those things into our day, so we’re working with our natural rhythms and energy levels, instead of trying to fight against them.  

For me personally, having a one-to-one catch up can be really energising, so doing this after lunch when my energy is typically lower is a much better idea than trying to focus on reviewing a venue hire contract or drafting a policy, for instance. 

Time mapping

We’ve also done some interesting exercises mapping our working days to analyse how we track our time:

  • how much effort and focus certain tasks take
  • what type of tasks we do
  • the importance and urgency of tasks
  • opportunities for social interactions

It’s been so useful to think about and analyse how we’re spending our time, and exploring whether we're being effective. Early results echo the findings of the world's largest trial of a 4-day week conducted with over 60 UK companies and 3,000 workers which showed increased wellbeing and productivity. 

Thoughts and feedback so far

We embedded some questions about the 4-day week into our annual appraisals in 2023. We asked everyone two questions:  

  • What have you done that’s made a difference to your work?  
  • What are the gaps that we should look at?  

We also asked what good things, difficult things, and surprising things had come up for them during the trial so far.  

The feedback was very positive:

  • Increased motivation and better work-life balance
  • Feeling more productive overall
  • Part-timers are spending less time 'catching up' now full-timers work fewer days

We also got valuable insight on areas needing more focus:

  • Feeling rushed at times
  • Hard to balance focussed work with meetings
  • Concerns over less time for training, reading and reflection

 All of this has helped us identify priorities for the rest of the trial. There are certainly still changes needed to smooth the transition but the benefits we're already seeing reinforce that, with intention and effort, the 4-day week can work. 

Top tips for starting a 4-day week 

  • Get employee buy-in - it takes team effort
  • Optimise meetings - length, agendas, scheduling
  • Analyse time use - where are the priorities and pain points?
  • Pilot first - a trial period lets you test, learn and adapt
  • Measure both wellbeing and productivity to track what's working and what isn't
  • Tailor to your organisation - there isn't a one-size fits all.

Useful reading and resources

Results from world's largest 4-day week trial

Time flies but you're the pilot

The virtues of structured flexibility 

Misconceptions about Fridays

The 4-day week campaign (includes advice for workers and employers)

Our trial runs until the end of March, when we’ll be reflecting on the impact of the trial, and making a decision about what happens next… so stay tuned. And if you’d like to chat about the AMA’s 4 Day Week experiment or have any questions just email me to carry on the conversation.

Headshot image of Danielle Patrick, Head of Projects at Events | Arts Marketing Association

Danielle Patrick, Head of Operations and Events, Arts Marketing Association



Resource type: Articles | Published: 2024