Wales

Four-day week: 'Surfing on Fridays boosts our firm’

Surfer at Rest Bay, Porthcawl Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brand agency Cre8ion says time out of the office gives employees the head space to be more creative

Allowing staff to take Friday off every two weeks to "do sport, go surfing or read a book all day" has boosted employee performance, according to a company boss.

Cardiff branding agency Cre8ion said the move improved its creativity and staff retention.

The idea of a four-day week - or reducing average weekly hours to 32 without a pay cut - has Labour backing.

Business body CBI Wales said there was not enough evidence to back the move.

For six months, the nine-strong team at Cre8ion, which has offices in Cardiff and Bristol, has worked a two-week pattern where staff take the first Friday off entirely, then on the second they work on research and development and their own ideas, either in the office or wherever they want.

How does it work?

"Talk to most creative agencies, Friday afternoons are a bit of a write-off, so you're only really losing a morning," said chief executive Darrell Irwin.

As long as employees plan ahead and know their deadlines they do not "miss a beat", he said.

"Having that extra space has helped them creatively. There are other industries that are similar, where they're always thinking.

"It's a passion… allow people to experiment, allow their passion to flourish."

Image copyright Cre8ion
Image caption Cre8ion's website declares they are closed on Fridays

Staff with young children, for example, cannot always do the things they really enjoy on the weekend, he said.

"Having that extra day back, allowing them to go and do sport, go surfing or read a book all day, that gives them that time back.

"And people can think 'well it might not work in my industry', so I challenge people: 'Well if you can't give a Friday off to all your workforce, why not have half the work force take Friday off and the other half take Monday off?'

"If you're looking to retain millennials, these sorts of things are really important to them."

He said the move could improve companies' bottom line, but it takes a "leap of faith".

Is it realistic?

Supporters of the "four-day week" idea believe it would improve productivity - trade unions have supported the plan but a report commissioned by Labour concluded it would not be "realistic or even desirable" to impose it.

CBI Wales said there was not enough evidence to support workers moving to a four-day week on the same pay.

"We'd all like a day off to go surfing," said director Ian Price, but there's "no guarantee" reducing hours would increase productivity.

He said it would put a strain on already stretched companies and highlighted that many firms already offered flexibility through reduced hours, compressed hours and working from home.

What is productivity?

Productivity is the amount of output you get from each worker and is a key factor in increasing living standards.

Factors contributing to productivity levels are complex and debatable and are linked to investment in machinery and technology, for example, as well as employee performance.

Wales has the lowest level of productivity of the 12 UK nations and regions, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the average worker in the UK does more hours per year than employees in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, but fewer than those in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain all have higher productivity than the UK, whereas Portugal and Italy's is lower.

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