The four day work week

Why working less is actually more

If you work in design, you have probably heard the following story a million times. A young eager beaver of a designer gets their first job in a London agency. The hours are super long, they are overworked and underappreciated, but everyone around them is doing the same thing.

They start to think that working well into the night and napping under their desk is normal. But hey they’re young and it’s … fine, right??? That is until they’ve been working like this for ten years, hit their mid thirties, and completely burn out. At this point many designers leave the agency world or the industry altogether.

Sometimes starting a career in design is like putting your 70p in a vending machine and watching your twix get stuck on the way down.


A lot has changed since the five day work week was first introduced. Flappers are sadly a thing of the past and you definitely can’t buy a house for £3000 anymore. A lot has changed within the design industry as well.
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When the five day work week was introduced in 1929 graphic designers were still making things by hand - using letrasets and drawing using nothing but ink and lead. It was a long process and long hours were necessary to complete projects in time.

On the plus side, artists were fully absorbed in their work. They were able to dedicate a lot of time to each piece and weren’t juggling so many projects at once.

Fast forward 92 years we now have the software that does a lot of the ground work for us. We don’t need a ruler to create a straight line or a compass to create that perfect circle. Because of these technological developments, designers are able to create in a day what it may have taken someone a week to create in the 20s.

During the pandemic even more time has been saved with zoom video calls becoming the norm, instead of meeting people in person.

Because of this time saved, it means more time to be doing? Like many other careers, the modern work environment has become extremely fast paced. You are going 100 miles per hour, creating projects, presenting work and sending email updates about your progress. You will work on multiple projects at the same time and rapid turnover is expected.

This all means designers have less time for creative thought than ever before. There is no time for the mind to wander. There is no time to research new concepts and originality is lost. It is a hard enough challenge to scrape through the day’s to-do list, leaving no time to explore new ideas. This can be mentally taxing and draining, not to mention unsustainable.

What’s more, a five day work week could actually be leading to a lower rate of productivity due to burn out.
Studiounbound Packaging Branding Ethical
Studiounbound Packaging Branding Ethical 01

Brain Dead

Studies have also found that end of the week tiredness is REAL. Research shows that 35% less work gets done on a Friday than on other days of the week… Fridays are extremely unproductive for the best of us.

It isn’t just our work lives which suffer either.

By the end of a five day work week, most of us are so exhausted that the only thing our zombie brains can handle is a three season Netflix binge watch. We tell ourselves that the V&A exhibition doesn’t sound that interesting anyway or that we may as well just stay in and watch that scene in Ghost instead of actually going to that ceramics class we booked onto last month.

In short, most of us are too tired for all of the activities which could feed our mind with new ideas and bring us fulfilment in our lives outside of work.

So, why on earth are we doing this to ourselves?

Working friday needs to be cancelled

Turns out productivity doesn’t mean keeping a chair warm for a set amount of hours each week. Emerging studies report employees that work a four day week are feeling less stressed, take less sick days and productivity levels increase. The results seem to be the same no matter where these trials take place. Japan, New Zealand, Spain, UK and even Glasgow.

Now this is only true for a real four day week. Some companies claim to provide four day work weeks and actually just cram a five day work week into four days or reduce salaries for less hours. This is just about cutting the time that is spent sitting in a chair staring blankly at a screen trying not to burst into tears because your brain is fried.
Branding Studio Design Working Four Day Week
Branding Studio Design Working Four Day Week 01

Sounds good but surely it's not good for everyone?

Ah, that's where you’re wrong my friend. The four day work week is good for designers, employers and clients and here is why.

For designers

Recent years have seen a huge emphasis on mental health in the workplace. ‘Hustle culture’ is dying and designers are prioritising their wellbeing over their wallets and office politics. We are all searching for a new working structure that can help us live with less stress.

Just one less day at work can help decrease stress levels and give employees the opportunity to commit more time to other things that bring them joy - whether that be family, friends or finally getting time for that ceramic class.
For employers

The four day work week can lead to greater employee satisfaction, therefore greater company commitment. No amount of amazon gift vouchers, casual Fridays or office ping pong tournaments can beat simply giving your employees an extra day a week for themselves to relax and recuperate.

The reduced hours allow designers to spend three days doing activities that rejuvenate and inspire them. When they return to work on Monday, they are more likely to be well rested, less stressed and more productive in the workplace.
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Branding Studio Design Working Four Day Week 03
For clients

An extra day off each week can really contribute to a greater standard of work and creativity. Having time to explore new hobbies, read books and travel can have a huge impact on idea generation for designers and can contribute to greater levels of originality.

If you have already read our post on the art of unexpected branding then you will know that as a company we believe in the power of unique, original, and surprising branding. Hiring an exhausted, uninspired designer who has just spent last night sleeping under their desk at work doesn’t seem like the best way to get an amazing design.

Time for change!

It’s time for things to change in the design industry… We want to undo the current working model for people and put it back together in a way that makes this career sustainable, healthy, and driven by creativity above all else.

That is why we are a big believer of the Four Day Work Week and are adopting it in our own business. We want our designers and all employees to be healthy, enthusiastic and inspired, not burnt out, overworked and stressed. If companies want to get the best from their people, we need to start appreciating them as humans as well as employees. We need to give them space to explore the world around them and discover new ideas.

It looks like Friday is soon set to become Friyayyyyyyyyy!!!!!
Do you want to find out more about us? Follow us on socials @studiounbound
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