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‘No-work Wednesday’ goes global

Digital agency Versa shuts its doors every Wednesday. Employees at the busy maker of apps, augmented reality products and websites work 37.5 hours a week over four days in a radical 20-month experiment that has seen profit and productivity soar, ABC News reports.

After ABC’s The Business interviewed chief executive Kathryn Blackham in April last year, she said things got crazy.

“A lot has happened since!” laughed Ms Blackham, reciting a schedule that has seen her lecture UK Members of Parliament, win international awards, present at conferences and cop an inbox overflowing with corporate human resources leaders wanting to catch up on the project.

The concept is brutally simple. On Wednesdays at Versa there are no client meetings, no deliveries, no pitches to clients and no expectation of checking emails.

After a year, the data was in.

“We are three times more profitable than we were last year, we have grown by 30 or 40 per cent in the last year in terms of revenue, and we have got happier staff who are much more productive,” Ms Blackham said in April.

“So all of the factors that you would have thought would have gone down because we’re working 20 per cent less — in theory, we’re working one day less, although we are doing longer days on the other days — actually we’ve seen them increase dramatically.”

About to head off on a summer break, Ms Blackham reflected that the company’s shift had reverberated across the advertising industry and beyond.

“More importantly for me, it’s really started a conversation about how we’re going to move forward in the industry,” she said.

“But there’s been the most interest outside our industry, [rather] than inside it.”

Much interest has come from the United Kingdom after the BBC syndicated the ABC’s April report about Versa.

Ms Blackham spoke to MPs and leaders of UK Labour about her experience as the party took a policy of a 10-year transition to a four-day week to the recent election. (Labour was trounced, although it seems unlikely that policy was a major factor in an election dominated by Brexit).


Aussie firm’s ‘no-work Wednesday’ concept goes global (ABC News)


PHOTO: Versa’s office is only staffed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. (ABC News: Daniel Ziffer