The new workweek: 20 per cent off? By Active DMC’s Sawsan Ghanem

Active DMC’s Sawsan Ghanem explains the people and productivity at the heart of the move to a four day week.

Covid-19 has affected so many things, so much of our lives and the way that we do, well, everything. And we know – even if it’s becoming a little tired – that how we work has been a point of discussion that has been accelerated by this pandemic.

We love Zoom. It’s been an essential business and social tool for us throughout the last two years and we will continue to use it for all the amazing features it offers now and will in the future. But at Active DMC we were asking ourselves: How will we work in the future? What approach and format will we apply? What reasonably works in the region and the industry we work in?

The objective throughout was to find a format that delivered the necessary productivity that the world of marketing and public relations demands and balance this with our team’s wellbeing and their work-life balance because this industry has been and is affected heavily due to the nature of what we do and the services
we provide.

The four-day week – to us – looked like the most attractive option. We felt that it worked in terms of staying operational when our clients were there since a large majority of them are based overseas. It offered us the in-person attendance at the office to retain and promote that sense of team spirit and collaboration that’s key to creativity as well as motivation, and it was more relevant for the region we work in, the present regulations around office space and visa allocations and the need for a trade licence for pretty much everything we do when working with any authority. You can’t escape the rent – at least for now.

Our instinct was confirmed when we introduced this to our team, and since then we have all been working to this format and the benefits are certainly there, especially for team spirit and motivation. That’s been a great boost for us as an agency and it’s also been a huge factor when we are recruiting – and everyone is right now.

There are lessons we have learned and are learning, and we knew this would be the case especially in the minutiae of mapping the present labour laws with the new working hours, leave calculations and other costs that aren’t directly associated with this. So, what we are doing now is going through the process to balance our costs and benefits to ensure that we can stay the course. We are doing that in collaboration with our senior team so that we all understand the challenges as well as the benefits.

Obviously, one key target audience was the clients, and they have not only been incredibly positive but they have also been supportive of the move, and we think they recognise that every organisation must evolve and review how they work and where they work as we move into this post-pandemic world. They are mostly in technology, and in most cases are helping their customers transform to a more mobile workforce, so they really get it.

So, for any company thinking of doing this we would say it’s worth it. But… do the homework and maybe think about a trial period to allow time for any of the kinks to be worked out. Internal communications and a collaborative approach with your team are important and a commitment to the cause is necessary.