On Wednesdays, while most of her friends are at work, Tiffany Schrauwen is on the tennis court, practising her backhand. The Melbourne project manager has a lesson all to herself at 09:00, and it can’t be bad for her game.
Schrauwen isn’t slacking off. For nearly a year, digital marketing agency Versa – where she works – has shut down on Wednesdays, giving staff a four-day week at five days’ pay.
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Employees at the company do a standard-length day on Mondays and Tuesdays, then return for another two on Thursday and Friday. No meetings are scheduled for Wednesdays – however, if a client has urgent work that needs doing, workers will pick up the phone.
When Schrauwen first was told of the plan, she was excited, then wary – she was worried about how it would work; as project manager, she was the main contact for both staff and clients, so she stood to bear the brunt of any missed deadlines, stress or broken lines of communication.
But Versa staff reorganised their work patterns to become more efficient. She’ll arrange to have certain tasks completed by the midweek break, meetings are more focused and idle chatter less appealing. Every two weeks the company also reviews what has worked and what hasn’t. “Everyone wants it to work because we love having the flexibility,” says Schrauwen. “If I want to keep that Wednesday off, I prep my week better.”