The four-day workweek: How Trio Media is continuing to experiment with it

Part three of our series on agencies that participated in the largest four-day workweek trial to date.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Claire Daniels

· 4 min read

Just as remote work has become more popular over the past three years, so has the four-day workweek.

Earlier this year, results from the world’s largest trial of the four-day workweek—conducted in the UK between June 2022 and December 2022—revealed that workers are by and large ready to leave the five-day, 40-hour workweek in the past. The study’s authors called the experiment, which included 61 companies and more than 2,000 workers, a “resounding success.”

Given that marketing and advertising was the most-represented industry in the trial, we spoke with three participating agency executives about their experiences, including Claire Daniels, CEO of digital marketing agency Trio Media.

Getting involved

Daniels told us that she became interested in the trial both from an employee happiness and productivity standpoint: “Obviously, the underlying element as a business owner is around profitability, cost savings, and increasing revenue, because it’s about getting more without increasing our costs.”

As with Amplitude and Literal Humans, Daniels said she was concerned about people being stressed or working longer hours to be able to take an additional day off. In the end, she said she was “very much proven wrong.”

The plan

Trio Media approached the trial with the following structure, according to Daniels:

  • Half of the employees (now totaling 13) worked Monday–Thursday and the other half worked Tuesday–Friday so the agency remained open five days a week.
  • Clients were not notified of the new schedule outright, but rather introduced to other points of contact who helped when employees were off.
  • Initially, days off were not allowed to be swapped with other employees.
  • Most employees worked in the office 100% of the time.

The results

While there was fear that letting clients know about the new schedule could cause alarm, Daniels said she hasn’t received “many comments” from them, even as the agency received press coverage for its participation.

“What we wanted to do was prove that it wouldn’t actually impact them,” she said. “I think the main thing with our clients is encouraging them to understand that when our team has a better work-life balance, it means they can do better work.”

According to Daniels, employees have said they’ve been able to achieve “much better” balance in their lives. Trio Media has also received more interest from prospective employees, though Daniels said she “doesn’t want people to apply just because they want to work four days; I still want people to apply because they want to work here.”

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In terms of revenue, she said Trio Media—which has worked with clients like Green Chef, Lily Comms, and Leach—saw a 47% increase in revenue between June 2022–December 2022 during the trial compared to that same time period the year prior. The improvement in business performance, she said, “just naturally flowed from having a happier team.”

What’s next

After the trial wrapped, Daniels said she felt it was important to conduct an additional six-month internal trial before implementing the four-day workweek permanently in order to see  what the longer-term impact might be on things like client retention, customer satisfaction, and productivity.

She’s made some changes in Trio’s continued trial, like allowing employees to swap their days off, which they weren’t able to do during the first trial. For new people joining the agency, Daniels said they’re assigned their day off based on the distribution of who has Monday versus Friday off and based on their role.

Another change she’s made? If employees want to be completely unreachable on their allotted day off, they have to clock it as PTO. Otherwise, they’re expected to be accessible if something comes up, even if they’re technically not working.

“I’ve committed quite a lot of flexibility in terms of saying, ‘I will pay you for five days, and you only have to work four days.’ The flexibility in turn needs to be, ‘I’ll do what needs to be done to get the job done,’” she said.

While Daniels framed the four-day week as a “benefit and reward,” she also acknowledged that the gains for the agency have “far outweighed any costs or challenges.”

“There’s been so much momentum gained around the four-day week that I think that will continue,” she said. “Ultimately, people want a better work-life balance, so I do believe it is the future.”

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