At our Quarterly Business Review in May 2022, Kickstand’s Distributed Committee made a momentous announcement to the rest of the agency: every Kickstander, for the rest of the summer, was going to have every other Friday off.
Having monitored the four day work week’s growing popularity for some time, including the launch of a successful pilot program in the UK, we knew we wanted to be part of this shift towards the future of work. Our goal was to promote flexibility within our culture, empower individuals to take ownership of their productivity, and foster even higher employee satisfaction at Kickstand.
Needless to say, buy-in and excitement were high, and we’ve decided to continue what we now call the “Alternate Fridays” program indefinitely. I’d like to share Kickstand’s approach and process as more leaders in the PR space and beyond eye the possibility of a four day work week.
Launching an alternative work week program was an enormous undertaking for Kickstand’s Distributed Committee. We’re a small group of team members focused on ensuring the best experience for all Kickstanders, particularly those in fully remote locations given our remote-first approach to work.
Our first step was to chat through what would help our employees the most, whether that was early sign offs, additional PTO, or every other Friday off. As part of this process, I met with several other leading PR agencies to discuss how they were approaching workplace flexibility – shout out to Mallory Blair at Small Girls PR and Clara Mattucci at Gillespie Hall for their insights!
From there, we learned that the best option for a services-centric industry like ours was a rotating day off rather than a company-wide holiday, as it would have minimal impact on our client services. Once we settled on this approach, the “hows” started pouring in:
- How could we launch a pilot program this summer with minimal client impact?
- How could we rally together to support our colleagues on their off days?
- How could we ensure each team member feels they have the support they need at work, even on lower staff days?
By dividing the agency into two teams – Sharks and Jets – and splitting them up by level, we were able to guarantee admin, media, and strategy support would be online every Friday, regardless of which team was out each week.
The Distributed Committee promised the agency that if our summer pilot program worked out, we’d do everything we could to continue it. And boy did we have our work cut out for us! There have certainly been some pain points to troubleshoot, like navigating PTO requests for Fridays with limited staff, but we’ve been able to rise to the occasion and solve each one of these as a team.
One of our biggest challenges headed into the program was the fear that every other Friday off would translate into 10-12 hour working days Monday through Thursday. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case due to some careful planning and consideration.
We know that meetings can be an incredible time sink with varying ROI, so to foster more productivity during the four day work week we’ve revamped our process for scheduling and holding calls:
Internal meetings are now only 20 minutes instead of a half hour
All meetings must now have an agenda
We are quite strict about making sure only the necessary team members are on certain calls
All of this has been extremely well received by the team, as it means everyone has more time to focus on producing high quality work.
I’m truly thrilled to work at a company spearheaded by leaders like Molly and Kristina. They cared enough about employee wellbeing to be at the forefront of revolutionizing work/life balance and redefining what flexibility in office culture actually looks like. Their trust in the Distributed Committee to successfully roll out this program speaks volumes about the ownership they provide Kickstanders.
For other PR agencies or companies in client service-heavy industries that may be looking to test out an alternative work week, I cannot recommend it enough! Just remember that this exciting undertaking requires some flexibility on the team’s end and a whole lot of buy-in and responsibility to achieve.
Overall, this program has improved work/life balance, increased employee satisfaction, and significantly helped our recruiting efforts. Just look at what some of our Kickstanders have been doing in their new free time!