What began as an internal email making headlines has started a much-needed industry debate around the issue of flexible working.
Post-Starcom’s "email going public" furore of last week, we’ve been inundated with support from clients, from other agencies and even (off the record!) some industry trade titles around "Flexigate" (as we have now embraced it internally).
Last week, Sue Frogley went on record to reinforce Publicis Media UK’s commitment to our flexible working initiative, referring to the importance of capturing a "Friday feeling" in the office.
It’s worth a pause to talk about that Friday feeling – what is it and why do we think it’s so important? Last week, industry experts described their Friday feeling to Campaign: "more time to think", "tends to be calmer", with the freedom to "tackle tasks with total focus" and "a different kind of energy". And that energy is not to be underestimated; as Dan Cullen-Shute put it, "(the buzz) matters. That sense of community matters". Because, ultimately, we win or lose as a team. And that sense of team is one of the things that makes our industry great.
So perhaps in the end, the Friday feeling simply means a better sense of balance, mental well-being and focus. The ability to thrive, both as an individual and as a team. Which begs the question: should that be limited to Fridays?
At Starcom, we take mental health very seriously. World Mental Health Day is on 10 October and every single Publicis Groupe UK employee has been encouraged to take the day to focus on their mental health. Flexible working is simply another manifestation of this commitment to our talent. In our frenetic, fast-paced, deadline-tastic world, our group’s policy was born from a commitment to bring back this balance – not just to Fridays but to every day, to our whole selves.
For me, the introduction of flexible working has been transformational. As a single parent, my pre-flexible working mornings were full of stress, snapping "where’s your bag?" and "why haven’t you got your shoes on yet?" to a seven-year-old boy who ironically seemed to slow down the louder I became.
Post-flexible working, pressure is lifted. Mornings are more relaxed. I resemble a reasonable person rather than a highly strung cliché. As a result, I arrive at work an altogether more pleasant, more productive person. (And my son might need a little less therapy when he hits his teenage years.)
That’s what I call a Friday feeling. And that’s what I and hundreds of us across Starcom get to restore into our lives. Not just on Fridays, but every day.
Nadine Young is UK managing director at Starcom