Pursuit directors (l to r) - Robert Copeland, Lorraine Gray, Brian Williamson, Jamie Williamson, Patrick Byrne

A pioneer of the four-day working week in Scotland has urged other companies to follow suit as they celebrate five years of their unique flexible working arrangements.

Pursuit Marketing, part of the 4icg Group, is a specialist digital marketing and lead generation company. Headquartered in Scotland and with operations in Malaga and Istanbul, Pursuit initiated a four-day working week for its employees in Glasgow and London in 2016. During that period, turnover has grown from £1.6m in 2016-17 to £16.7m in 2020-21.

Productivity over this five-year period has increased by 29.6% and the company currently employs over 300 staff members, up from 44 employees in 2016.

Now working with the largest global technology brands, Pursuit delivers native speaking projects in 32 countries worldwide. Following great success in Glasgow, Malaga and Istanbul, the company is mapping out its global expansion with a new location opening in Berlin in the next 3 months, before launching its first US office next year.

Pursuit has announced its results as pilots are being staged in the wake of changes in working practices brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Scottish Government having pledged a £10 million fund for companies trialling a four-day week.

Lorraine Gray, Chief Operating Officer at Pursuit (4icg), said: “I would encourage as many companies as possible to trial a four-day working week and seek support from the Scottish Government as it implements its pilot. We started offering flexible working, well before the pandemic struck, as myself and the rest of the Board all had young families and we aspired to create an environment where we wanted to work. Furthermore, 2016 was a challenging time as a business, the economic climate wasn’t great and we faced tough competition, so changes had to be made.

“Following the success of our own four-day week pilot, we rolled it out across the business in 2016 with remarkable results. We achieved a 37% increase in productivity and had zero sickness absence which is unheard of in our industry.

“We knew from the culture we had created that not all our employees were driven by pounds and pence – some liked and really valued our approach to flexible working and our focus on wellbeing. The introduction of the four-day week has never been about cost cutting for us, there has been no reduction in salary or benefits, and there’s no compressed hours. We put our employees first and as a result staff retention has increased to over 90% and morale is up with 85% of the workforce believing the four-day working week has boosted their wellbeing.”

Pursuit was in a position, when the pandemic hit, of being able to react quickly to the circumstances and listen to what colleagues needed. Now over a year and a half on from the new working arrangements enforced on all businesses, many are realising that they must provide employees with greater work-life balance.

The four-day working week, with no reduction to pay or benefits, are not the only strands of Pursuit’s flexible working model which also includes the option of term-time working aligned with the many school holidays throughout the year. The company’s focus on wellbeing is paramount and free breakfasts are offered as well as extended paid lunch breaks to participate in free fitness classes and onsite counselling session are also available.

Lindsay Hannah, Senior Telemarketing Consultant at the company, said: “The four-day week has been a saviour for me and my family. I am the sole carer for an elderly relative, and this extra day provides the time I need to ensure she has the support needed. The company’s flexible working approach also means if I get a call to say my mum has had a fall or being taken to hospital, I know I can leave without fear of any absence affecting my role. That’s invaluable.”

Pursuit has been sharing their experiences on the success of its flexible working journey and how it could be replicated by others, including policy shapers from the South Korean Government.

Lisa Gallagher, Director and Co-Founder of Flexibility Works (Scotland’s third sector organisation supporting flexible working) said: “Developing a flexible working culture helps both businesses and employees thrive while also helping to address some of Scotland’s big societal and economic challenges. Pursuit is a shining example of a true flexible working model, and we are delighted to follow the continued success of their four-day week as they grow their remarkable team both in Scotland and internationally.”