The 4 Day Week: A Head of Brand's Story

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Back in June we signed up to a 4-day working week trial for 6 months, with no reduction in pay for staff. We've been sharing our experiences along the way, and it's now the turn of Chris, our Head of Brand and Community to tell his story.

What’s your role?

I’m the Head of Brand & Community here at Hutch. My team consists of Brand Marketing Managers and Social/Influencer/Community Managers. Ultimately we’re responsible for building brands around our live games (and of course Hutch itself), and managing a lot of the outward facing communication we put out. 

How long have you been at Hutch?

I’ve been working at Hutch for just about 3 years as of writing this! It’s gone surprisingly quickly.

THE 4 DAY WEEK

What was your first reaction when you found out that Hutch was taking part in the 4 Day Week trial?

My immediate reaction was ‘wow’. Hutch has always been at the leading edge when it comes to offering fantastic benefits and work-life-balance measures, but this was taking it to a whole new level. 

What’s been the biggest challenge for your team?

I think it’s actually been quite straightforward for us. We’re quite a dynamic team, where it can sometimes be quite hard to predict what we’ll be working on from one week to the next (though we try!). I think that’s actually been beneficial in the context of a 4 day working week, as we already have some innate flexibility built into the way we work. I guess if I had to pick a challenge, it would probably be ensuring quick and effective communication to our communities during our new off-work hours (Friday - Sundays). I think we’re in a pretty good place with that now through some updated processes (more on this in later answers!)

What’s been the biggest change to your working week?

It sounds silly, but it took a while for me to really get my head around actually having Fridays off. I would find myself on a Thursday afternoon contemplating some work that would be needed for Monday, thinking I could get it done tomorrow, then realising I actually only had a few hours to get the work done! Thankfully I think my head is now firmly in the 4 day week mindset, so that isn’t happening as much as it did at the start of the trial. 

What are your top 3 productivity hacks?

Move weekly recurring meetings to a longer cadence - like 2 or 3 weekly (where possible). We actually found this to be a huge time saver and we’ve realised many of the weekly meetings we used to do really weren’t as necessary as we thought.

We’re also starting to use the Pomadoro technique at Hutch, where you focus in 25 minute chunks, followed by a short break. It’s actually a great way to work and has helped me focus.

Last but not least - I’ve recently gotten into listening to ‘beta waves’ instead of music. It’s basically white noise - but I’ve found it to be unbelievably effective in honing my concentration. Combining this with Pomadoro has been amazing. 

Were there any unexpected outcomes / experiences?

I think the main thing I’m still surprised by is just how long a 3 day weekend really feels. I thought the novelty would wear off after a while and 3 day weekends would start to feel like regular weekends after a while. It’s like having a bank holiday every week, and I love it! 

What are your hopes / plans for the remainder of the trial?

My main hope is that the trial is deemed successful and we continue permanently! 

THE LONG WEEKEND

How do you use your extra day?

For me it’s a combination of doing some of the chores that would otherwise have fallen on a weekend and also hanging out with my 1 year old son. Since starting the 4 day week my wife has started to return to work on Fridays and some weekends, which gives me some great bonding time with just me and my son. 

What impact has the extra day off had on you and your team?

I think we all feel far more rested on a Monday when we return to the office. I also think we’re all more tired when we reach the end of the week on Thursday (there’s definitely an increased pace during the week when there are only 4 days to get everything done, which can be quite tiring). We all agree though that being able to properly recuperate over a 3 day weekend has been really helpful. 

How do you find your team tend to use their extra day?

I think it’s a real mixture - some are pursuing hobbies or activities they wouldn’t ordinarily have had time for, while others like me are spending more time with family. 

How do you ensure people don’t end up working on the Friday?

The main area in my team that this could happen is in Community Management. I touched on it earlier, but ensuring a high level of service to our community even when we’re not in the office is important to us. We work closely with external agencies and volunteer moderators who help us keep on top of what’s going on in our communities while we’re out. 

Also, more generally we try to remain respectful of each other’s time - so we don’t email or slack message each other about work stuff during our time off. Hutch as a company has actually always been pretty good for this, and it’s really important in this trial. 

What advice do you have for other companies thinking of trying out a 4 Day Week? 

At Hutch we created a 4 day working week taskforce, which consists of representatives from each department / discipline in the company. Task force members act as the voice of the people they’re representing, and bring feedback, tips and challenges from their areas to regular meetings to share with others. I think that’s been a really helpful thing for us to do, so would recommend others looking to run a 4 day week to do the same, at least for the trial period (and possibly beyond!). 

Any specific advice for those with a brand or community team?

As mentioned above, making sure there’s coverage during the 3 day weekend for things like Community Management is really important. It’s also worth remembering that a lot of the external partners you work with obviously won’t be on a 4 day week, so there’s often some coordination required there to keep things running properly. More broadly (and this could apply to any discipline really), have a meeting audit and figure out where you can change the regularity of recurring meetings, drop out of meeting you don’t need to be at, or even cancel meetings entirely. I think that’s actually something every business should do regularly regardless of working a 4 day week, as it’s surprising how much time can be saved by doing this. 

Find out more about the UK's 4 Day Week trial, being run by 4 Day Week Global, with 70 companies taking part: https://www.4dayweek.com/news-posts/uk-four-day-week-pilot-begins

Interested in working at Hutch? Check out our current vacancies here: https://www.hutch.io/careers/

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