Behind the scenes with AMA: 4-Day Week pilot

Behind the scenes with AMA: 4-Day Week pilot

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 first of three blogs that follow the trial, Dani looks at the reasons behind the decision, the research and consultation process and how the trial will work.

We’re about to start something new and quite exciting here at the AMA. Starting from October we’ll be trialling a 4-day week.

What is a 4-day week and why are we doing it?

When I shared this news with a few people, it’s clear that the term ‘4-day week’ means different things to different people. What we mean by a 4-day week is that full time team members working 5 days / 40 hours per week will be able to reduce their working hours down to 4 days, for us that's 32 hours per week, with no reduction in salary.

The idea for us to trial this started with Cath, our CEO who had been following the official UK 4-Day Week pilot scheme. This saw lots of different types of organisations in the UK moving to a 4-day week with the majority of them seeing no drop in productivity or income. Instead they saw a happier, healthier workforce and some had actually seen an increase in productivity. I’m paraphrasing this massively, so if you’d like to read more about the trial and some of the evidence that came out of it, here are a few of the links that we found useful:

Information from the UK's national campaign for a 4-day week.

Report on 4-day week pilots by Autonomy, the independent, not-for-profit group that produces research for a better future in work.

So, 92% of employers who took part reported that they would continue with the shorter work week following the trial. Based on this evidence, things were looking really positive, and if we could still achieve all that we wanted to achieve as an organisation whilst improving staff wellbeing, that felt like an easy decision to make. There’s also a big equity argument for the 4-day week. Typically, for instance, women take on more unpaid work outside of their paid working hours. A 4-day week helps to redress that balance, along with providing more free time for those with children and caring responsibilities and people with health conditions. It felt like a win-win.

Consultation with our Board and team

Cath and I pitched the idea to our Board, who were incredibly supportive, brought some great questions to the table, and gave us the green light. Following this, we shared our initial thinking with the rest of the AMA team. Interestingly, there were mixed reactions. There was excitement but also some nervousness. How would this work for part-time staff? Would we still be able to give our members great support across the week? What would this mean for our individual workloads and capacities? These questions gave us a solid basis to start planning out what a trial could look like for us and we worked on answering these questions together.

How will our trial work?

At the AMA we’re quite a flexible organisation. We have a mix of full and part-time team members, and we can work our hours flexibly in ways that suit us. It was this flexibility that actually led to some of the biggest question marks we had about the trial. For full-time team members the trial felt straightforward but we had options to consider for our part-time staff. Should everyone’s hours reduce by 20%? Should people who already work for 4 days / 32 hours retain their current hours? Should we standardise this across the trial?

In the end, we’ve decided that we should be flexible in our approach. Doing anything else feels like it would go against our values and ethos. Our part-time team members have decided whether they would like to retain their current salary and reduce their hours by 20%, or if they would like to retain their current hours and increase their salary. This does mean there’s a big budget commitment to the trial for us, as our salary bill will be increasing where team members have chosen the latter option. This is something we’d need to consider in terms of how feasible that increased budget would be if the trial became permanent.

We’ve encouraged the team to try to take one full day off if they can, as there’s evidence that staff members get the biggest wellbeing impact doing this instead of working several shorter days. But again we will be keeping this flexible and letting our team decide what works best for them.

We’ve held two staff consultation sessions about the 4-day week trial so far. We’ve shared information and provisional plans, asked for feedback, and answered questions from the team. This will be a big shift in our working so it feels essential that everyone in the team has inputted and been able to voice thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

Productivity, prioritisation and time management

We’re looking into time management and productivity training options and will be pulling together our knowledge across the team and also from CultureHive our knowledge hub to share good practice and things that work for us. We think that productivity, prioritisation, and time management will be key to how successful the trial is, so this is something we want to get right. As a fully remote team, we’re aware we do have a lot of meetings to stay connected, so there’s some reflection and testing we’ll need to do throughout the trial to ensure we’re using our time well, whilst still retaining our team culture and communication channels.

How will we know if it's worked?

The final thing we’re considering is how we’ll measure and evaluate the trial, so we know if it’s worked or not. There’s a plethora of information out there about the 4-day week and how to approach this, but for us it really comes down to just three key things:

  • maintaining targets — are we still achieving everything we want to, in the same timeframe?
  • impact on the team’s wellbeing — are the team benefitting from this?
  • general team attitude towards the 4-day week — are the team all on-board with the changes we’re making?

We’ll be keeping all of our targets and KPIs the same and will keep track of anything that needs to be pushed back. We’re also planning to keep track of how our team is finding it through a mix of feedback surveys, one-to-one conversations, and team check-ins. We’ll officially measure things at the start, mid-way point, and at the end of the trial.

Sharing our journey as we go

We’re going into the trial with lots of positivity and motivation, but we’re also very much aware that this is a trial, and the outcome isn’t guaranteed. We’re looking forward to sharing more about this experience as we go through the journey - the pros, the cons, the surprises! We hope to keep sharing what we learn throughout this process, and who knows, maybe that could even be a starting point for your own journey in the future?

If you have any questions for us about the trial, or would like to share your own experiences, I’d love to chat.

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: 2023