The eight-hour working day is one of the things about employment that’s changed the least over the years, which is a bit crazy considering it’s something that’s stuck around from running factories during the Industrial Revolution. Back then, 10 to 16-hour days were the norm. But such long hours weren’t sustainable. So, a man called Robert Owen started a campaign for people to work no more than eight hours a day. His slogan was: ‘Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.’
One of the first businesses to put the eight-hour working day into practice was Ford Motor Company in 1914. They also doubled their workers’ pay in the process. To the surprise of many, Ford saw its profit margins double within two years. An unexpected result that encouraged other companies to adopt the shorter working day, too.
But we don’t all work in factories anymore. And we now know that not all time is equal. Instead, energy and focus is a better measure for productivity. Which is the belief held by premium drinks company Diageo who says: ‘What matters is what you deliver, not where you sit.’
At Superdream, we couldn’t agree more. Which is why we introduced a flexible working scheme last year. It’s a principle that means we’ve made better hires, have happier colleagues and are more productive as an agency. And it encourages people to feel empowered, rather than ‘owned’, which makes for a healthier and more ambitious culture.
Flexible working takes into consideration everyone’s unique way of working and their life outside work. For example, it lets our people manage things like childcare more easily. It makes coming back to work easier for new mums. If someone wants to clock off at 4pm to burn off steam at the gym, they can. Or if a department wants to head out for an extra-long team-bonding lunch, they can. Or if someone wants to work from home for some extra headspace, they can. For the same reasons, we offer part-time and job-share contracts for people who have other commitments during the week.
People aren’t robots, so it’s unproductive to treat them like one. It’s a culture we’ve found makes total business sense, and one that’s driven from the top. Quite literally.
Even our managing director Fran practises what we preach by working four days a week until her daughter starts school in September.
If you’re interested in joining our team of Dreamers, either in the UK or Australia, take a look at our website. Or, feel free to send us your CV (or maybe you’d like to try something a bit more creative) to firstname.lastname@example.org.