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“Life extends far beyond the office”: McGregor Coxall’s nine-day fortnight

The multidisciplinary design practice recently announced a nine-day fortnight working policy. We find out more in this Q&A.

“Life extends far beyond the office”: McGregor Coxall’s nine-day fortnight

We spoke to McGregor Coxall CEO, George Panos, and People and Culture leader, Christine Storey, about the practice’s new workplace policy. With more and more design firms embracing flexible work and even employee ownership, we decided to ask the practice in question about the rationale behind this nine-day fortnight decision.

Timothy Alouani-Roby: Tell us a bit about your new nine-day fortnight — how does it work?

The nine-day fortnight at McGregor Coxall is a global initiative designed to offer our employees increased flexibility in managing their professional and personal commitments. It is not just about changing how we work; it’s about empowering our employees to thrive in both their career and personal life.

We see this as an innovative approach allowing our employees more control over their time and schedule.

This exciting initiative is not just a shift in the traditional working week; it’s a leap toward enhancing the lives of our incredibly diverse team, offering time for each individual to recharge. Life extends far beyond the office. With the nine-day fortnight, we hope to prioritise work-life balance.

Christine Storey.

What are the factors that have led you to make this change?

Our designs are innovative and cutting-edge, so we wanted our workplace to be innovative as well.

Ensuring a better work-life balance, we see the nine-day fortnight as a chance to provide our team with the autonomy and flexibility needed to truly reach this balance for everyone. A six-month trial in our UK studios received great feedback and following this success we have adopted it globally. I’m excited to see how this initiative has truly benefited our employees’ sense of wellbeing and satisfaction at work.

Are the fields of architecture and design uniquely suited to flexible working arrangements, or are these kinds of changes applicable to all industries?

I would argue it is more challenging to implement the nine-day fortnight within the design industry. We are heavily outcome-focused, with clients and projects being our top priority, meaning that we must ensure we can still meet the needs of our clients globally.

McGregor Coxall already has an extremely high level of work performance and commitment that enables complete trust. With our design studio’s philosophy of sustainability, resilience and innovation being central to not just our projects but our people, the goal with changes such as the nine-day fortnight is to increase employees’ time to rest and recover. This in no way has affected our outcomes, and making such flexibility tangible has encouraged a greater sense of trust and wellbeing throughout our studios.

George Panos.

Is it a case of ‘less is more’?

Absolutely. The implementation of the nine-day fortnight fosters a ‘less is more’ mentality, as it encourages heightened productivity and efficiency within the condensed work period. This approach aligns with McGregor Coxall’s commitment to maintaining performance standards while prioritising employee wellbeing and work-life balance.

Do you feel that this move improves trust in your studio?

Yes, absolutely. McGregor Coxall has a strong culture of trust, flexibility and empowerment, so it was an easy step to this initiative. Our trials have shown that this is most successful with trust at its core. We trust our staff to manage their time and they trust us to ensure that we will continue to have their wellbeing at the core of our management. When employees are given that flexibility, we have seen engagement and satisfaction at work increase exponentially.

Central to this transition was extensive consultation with our team, ensuring the team’s buy-in to this pursuit of flexibility for a better work-life balance for our team.

How do you reassure clients and all team members?

We maintain continuous cover for our clients to ensure we are set up for success, both for them and for our team members. When looking into the nine-day fortnight for our studios, we sought flexibility, efficiency and improved work-life balance for our team. This meant that consultation was key, with the team buying in to the new working pattern.

The nine-day fortnight has seen immense success in our UK Studios. We are so pleased to have reported increased engagement scores, sustained productivity, and we have successfully maintained our business targets. So, we are certain that embracing this flexibility for all studios will have a positive impact.

McGregor Coxall

Courtesy of McGregor Coxall

Read about the emerging trend of employee ownership in architecture and design

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