The Oriel Square four-day week

Oriel Square believes in productive hours, not long hours. Here we look at what our four-day week means for our team and our clients.

How does it work?

Unlike many companies who say they work a four-day week, we don’t work longer days; we work 7 hours a day for four days, totalling 28 hours a week. That means the 4 Day Week campaign accredited us as a gold standard employer.

We believe there are huge benefits both at work and at home from keeping to regular, focused working hours, and our belief is backed up by research. At Oriel Square, we get at least as much done in our working week, without sacrificing quality. Our shorter week makes time for life admin to happen outside of work, and improves the work–life balance of our team. We don’t pro-rate our salaries either. Everyone gets paid the full-time equivalent salary, using publishing industry benchmarking data.

Our team spend their time on a range of things on their non-working day; most people use it for a mixture of activities, and many people use it to keep their weekends clear for fun. Here are some of the things our team told us they do on their fifth day:

Pie chart showing Oriel Square team members' responses to the question 'What do you do on your day off?'
Number of mentions of each category, in response to ‘What do you do on your day off?

What does our four-day week mean for our clients?

Everyone at Oriel Square works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, normally in our Oxford office. This means teams can regularly get together to ensure our projects are running smoothly. We also meet regularly as a whole company, sharing best practice and developing our high-performance culture. 

Every colleague has a regular non-working day. We ensure we always have people responsible for different business functions available every day, and have clear non-working-day hand-offs between colleagues. Having run like this for five years, we are confident that clients who work a standard working week will not be affected by our hours. In fact, one of our clients is now trialling a shorter working week, partly because of the success of working with us.

There is an option to swap your non-working day, giving extra flexibility – for example, to take a long weekend without requiring extra holiday. This also means we have the flexibility to move our working days to fit the needs of our projects.

What does our four-day week mean for our team?

The great benefit of the shorter working week is the flexibility it gives our team. We focus on mental health and wellbeing, and believe this extra day a week of free time gives significant work–life benefits. 

We asked our team what our four-day working week meant to them; here’s what they said:

Eva, Publishing Assistant:  It’s always a topic of conversation when I meet new people and they’re always jealous! I end up travelling quite a lot at weekends so it’s really useful to have the extra day – you can go somewhere for two nights rather than one, or you can go away for the weekend and still have a day to sort life admin out. It’s possible to devote more time to your hobbies with a four-day week; I’m doing a ten-week course at the moment that would have been more difficult to commit to with a five-day week.

Claire, Head of Operations: I’ve worked four days a week for the last five years, but until I started work at Oriel Square in 2021, I was always considered part-time. When arranging meetings, I often felt like the awkward person who wasn’t as available, and this made me feel less valuable than my full-time colleagues, and ultimately less equal. Working at Oriel Square has been transformative – my hours are now exactly the same as everyone else, and I feel equally valued. I use my Wednesday to fulfil caring responsibilities and I do much of my school governance work on this day. 

Hannie, Research and Business Development Manager: It’s awesome! There’s far less thinking about work on my days off than when I worked a five-day week, and more time to properly focus on other activities. 

Helen, Editorial Manager: It helps me keep on top of demands of household, shopping and social life and gives me a day free to be creative, do sport or have a day out. It also means that weekday evenings are less overfilled.

Keira, Research and Communications Project Lead: Having three days off rather than two makes the work/ life balance feel more equal. After a three-day weekend I feel properly refreshed. I have had time to do a bit of everything, rather than packing everything into two days or saying no to something. Every weekend feels like a mini-holiday! 

Kristina, Senior Editor: I have more time for family, friends, and life outside of the office, and I’ve started volunteering as a tutor. I also have more time for life’s various chores, so I’m able to be more productive at home. 

Lauren, Development Editor: It’s the biggest perk of working at Oriel Square! It’s invaluable to be able to get life admin done on a day when companies are more easily available.  I try to make time for my creative hobbies like drawing and baking: they’re the best things to help me recharge.

Maddy, Intern: I really appreciate that I can set aside a day of the weekend to relax on top of having two days to handle everything else that needs doing. I also like being able to do my food shop on a weekday morning when it’s a bit quieter than the weekend! 

Mairi, Commissioning Editor: Having more energy, headspace and time to do the things that I want to do and fit everything in. I feel I get more done in less time and I don’t feel like I’m constantly rushing around anymore. 

Maegan, Editorial Project Leader: I benefit from childcare savings, language learning on my non-working day, and having a day for life admin that greatly reduces my mental load throughout the rest of the week.

Rebekkah, Design Manager: It’s transformed the relationship I have with my ‘personal time’. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritising ‘life admin’, jobs, etc. and then feeling a lack of energy or motivation to do things that nurture you e.g. exercise, gardening, baking, reading. When you have a third day to spread those tasks across, you open up breathing space, feel less rushed or pressured, and therefore (usually) manage to achieve all the boring bits but also do the things you love. 

Rezwan, Business and Administration Apprentice: It allows me to balance exercise, social life and working in a way that will still leave me with valuable experience and employability. 

Join the four-day week revolution! Check our jobs page for current vacancies at Oriel Square.