Four-day week backed by charity leaders

Charity sector leaders have welcomed a decision by voluntary sector think tank Directory of Social Change to move its full-time staff to a four-day week permanently.

The DSC had moved to a four-day week as a year-long experiment as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it has decided to make the move permanent following positive feedback from staff.

This sees all full-time staff working their weekly hours over four days, rather than five “giving everybody a three-day weekend every week”, said the DSC

Charity leaders have welcomed the move as a way of improving staff wellbeing and hoped to see more voluntary sector organisations make similar moves to support flexible working.

Charity sector consultant Zoe Amar said: “I hope we will see more measures like this across the sector to improve staff wellbeing and productivity”.

Meanwhile, Ed Holloway director of digital and services at the MS Society, said “I love this idea” in response to DSC chief executive’ Debra Allcock Tyler’s announcement of the move.

Elsewhere, Dhivya O’Conner, interim chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising told Allcock Tyler that a four-day week “makes the DSC a much more attractive employer”.

Commenting on the details of the four-day week decision, DSC Director of development and delivery Ben Wittenberg said: “We’d been talking about adding more flexibility into our working patterns for over a year before the pandemic hit, and finding ways to use them to better support staff wellbeing was already on our radar.

“So when we found ourselves operating as a small skeleton crew trying to keep things going while most of our staff were furloughed, we introduced a four day week to make sure people were getting regular breaks from the unprecedented pressures of operating in a pandemic.

“And it worked so well we carried on with it and have just established it as the norm for all full-time staff.”

Wittenberg added that the goal is to give all staff a long break over the weekend so that they can come back during the week “rested and recharged every week”.

The DSC's four-day week is being achieved through splitting staff into two team, working Tuesday to Friday and Monday to Thursday.

The move has been welcomed by DSC staff, who took part in a recent wellbeing survey.

“Having an extra day at the weekend makes so much difference to overall happiness and motivation. I feel much more rested and ready for the week and can get more work done,” said one DSC staffer.

Another said: “More consecutive rest days promoted mental wellbeing; there also seemed to be more time and headspace to deal with tasks needed in daily life and running a home (kids, cleaning, bills, maintenance, DIY, and physical exercise).”

Earlier this year Charity Times showcased some of the best emotional support groups currently up and running for charity leaders to access.

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