From ‘back to work’ orders to hybrid hype, office life is the subject of a tense debate. In some places, at least.
Headlines stated last week that Nike is one of the latest big brands to order its employees to return to its office for four days a week.
In the UK, the government is advising local authorities against trialling a four-day working week. It seems only one council is doing this at the time of writing, however.
Neither of these things point to a widespread trend, but parties with an interest in the debate tend to seize on them. For those familiar with office life before the pandemic, how and where we work is a live and intensely personal question. Organisations are trying to find the best approach for their teams and customers, often amidst confusing or unhelpful guidance.
In the spirit of flexible working, they should be prepared to experiment, collaborate and tweak their approaches. Much of the current debate – in the media at least – doesn’t allow for this. Sadly, working life is ensnared in the latest culture war pitting office workers against the ‘woke from home’ brigade. The reality, as always, is more nuanced.
This is the context into which proposals for a four-day working week step in. The four-day week shouldn’t be confused with compressed hours, which enable staff to work their contracted time across fewer days. The difference here is that employers pay staff a full time rate for spending four days working. Supporters say this helps attract top talent, retain staff and boost employee engagement. This piece has some great case studies. Trials by governments in Wales and Scotland will examine these points further.
Despite the headlines, it’s not caught on widely yet. I get why it’s popular amongst staff who value work-life blance. I also understand the concerns behind the questions it raises.
Continue reading “Five questions for teams considering a four-day week”
As business events go, the Severn Growth Summit at Celtic Manor was high profile judging by the response it generated.
I was one of about 350 people to attend the conference, which looked at how government can and businesses improve the economies around the West of England, Cardiff and Newport.
Welsh Secretary and Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns used the recent decision to abolish tolls on the Severn Bridge to press the case for a Western Powerhouse to drive growth across the areas. The comms teams should be delighted with the coverage this generated. I’ll come back to the powerhouse theme shortly.
There is more than a touch of symbolism to the tolls going. For those who use the bridge every day, it’s said by JLL’s Chris Sutton to be worth an extra £1,500 a year. There are 25m journeys made across the bridge each year and thousands of people use it on their daily commute. It’s a good example of how government action can make working between the three cities easier and more successful.
Continue reading “Thoughts from #SevernGrowthSummit: no ‘powerhouse’ needed”
After the chaos of Brexit and divisive tone of much of the reaction to the vote, there’s nothing like sport to bring people back together.
And what a rollercoaster of a week it’s been. As a remain supporter and proud Welshman, I was disappointed that so many people in Wales voted to leave the EU.
The prevailing, and sometimes lazy, narrative that has emerged since is one of a nation divided.
Then Friday night happened…
Continue reading “#Togetherstronger: more than a marketing slogan”
I am a proud Welshman, but I’ve always supported all the home nations in sporting events. I have an English dad and have spent my adult life in England, so I can’t do tribalism credibly even if I wanted to.
I was gutted by Wales’ defeat in the rugby to France yesterday in one of the most gripping contests I can remember. In many ways, it felt like those sporting failures etched on my memory: heroic performances, outrage at a referee and our boys coming up just short again.
Continue reading “Why Rooney and co could learn PR from the Welsh”
From valley to vale – Inside Housing
This piece on housing delivery in Wales is the latest part of Inside Housing’s campaign to make better use of public land to accelerate housebuilding in the UK. The best bit, however, comes at the end where a reader asks if the article is available in Welsh. The editor makes good use of Google Translate before responding to the query.