All full-time staff at the Directory of Social Change to work a four-day week

The Directory of Social Change has announced it has moved permanently to a four-day working week for all of its full-time staff. 

Staff at the training and publishing charity will work the same number of hours condensed into four days, with some staff members working Monday to Thursday and others working Tuesday to Friday, allowing all employees to take a three-day weekend. 

The organisation has 32 staff, although four are part-time and their hours or working days will not be affected by the change.

In a blog on the DSC website, Ben Wittenberg, director of development and delivery at the charity, said the move had been borne out of the DSC’s operational response to Covid-19 last year, when 70 per cent of staff were furloughed

Wittenberg wrote that staff found themselves “operating as a small skeleton crew trying to keep things going” and said the four-day week had been introduced “to make sure people were getting regular breaks from the unprecedented pressures of operating in a pandemic”. 

He wrote: “And it worked so well we carried on with it, and have just established it as the norm for all full-time staff.”

He acknowledged there had been some “teething troubles” as staff had to work out which days their colleagues would be available. 

“Revising our leave process involved some mathematical gymnastics to make sure it worked properly and nobody was losing out, and organising cover for leave has been tricky at times, especially with post-furlough leave mounting up a bit,” he said. 

“But we’ve worked through most of the challenges, and the benefits have so far outweighed them massively.”

Responses to the scheme in a recent staff wellbeing survey had been “overwhelmingly positive”, he said. 

Wittenberg said that openness, willingness to make tweaks along the way, as well as regular communication and check-ins between staff and managers had been key to making the change possible. 

And, at DSC, “no decision is sacred”, he said. 

“This is working for us now, and we’ll keep doing it as long as it does, but we’ll keep reviewing it and making changes as we go along as new challenges arise,” he said.

He acknowledged that working longer hours could present greater challenges when staff physically returned to the office. 

But, he said: “But so far it’s working great, our staff are happier and more productive, and it’s been one of the most positive outcomes of our organisational response to how we’ve been forced to work over the last year.”

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