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Companies Could Break Free of Monotony With 4 Day Week

Companies Could Break Free of Monotony With 4 Day Week
(Olexandr Bychykhin/Dreamstime)

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Tuesday, 31 July 2018 04:53 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Let it be noted here that the  four-day week was invented, initiated, and implemented for the first time in 1971 by Carl Ally Incorporated, an ad agency founded by Carl Ally in 1962 in the midst of the "Mad Men," three Martini lunch era.

I bring this up because reports just surfaced that a New Zealand firm that manages trusts and wills tried it out and are ecstatic over the results. According to the occasionally reliable New York Times, the firm "reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life balance . . . "

I cannot report on Carl Ally Inc.’s work-life balance, but I can give from memory these details:

  • Required schedule without punching a time clock was Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 6 pm.

  • One hour lunch break.

  • Employees expected to use Fridays for doctor and dentist appointments and standing on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Skeleton crew on premises Fridays.

Carl Ally, the owner not the Inc., wrote memos and gave lobby speeches touting his idea as freedom for the back-office and some front-office people: the receptionists, the mail boys, the secretaries, the financial people.

The executives? They would continue to do what they had to do whenever they had to do it. This often meant Saturday, Sunday, late nights and early mornings. But if Fridays were free, c’est la vie and au revoir.

Carl thought he was giving his workers something even more valuable than money — time.

For Carl himself it meant nothing except satisfaction. He had his name on the door and was by then off pushing for European growth and a public offering that would actually be aborted for reasons other than work schedules.

But his competition used the four-day week against the agency both in new business pitches and cajoling current clients to leave.

However, before word got out around town, Ally Inc. won the Federal Express account in its infancy (if worse came to worse, Carl, a World War II pilot, could fly one of their then 14 planes and the competitor in the pitch J. Walter Thompson had died before the automobile rolled off the assembly line). The agency also won Beefeater Gin whose owner must have figured if the three-Martini lunch was gone, it better prepare to be part of fulsome dinners.

Although accounts came and went at the beginning in the usual fashion, employees did stay. For an industry with a noted turnover, the four-day week kept together a core group of employees and they were able to maintain the culture of the place for a long time (a vital ingredient for a successful ad agency or any creative enterprise). And during the four-day week some remarkable work was done such as this spot years before such film was attempted by the establishment agencies. 

And these two spots done by guys attracted from Chicago and San Francisco to the agency’s New York work week and work ethic. Watch the second spot here

The four day week did come to an inglorious end in 1976, the victim of pressures from lost new business pitches and the inevitable references to it by the competition.

And me? Well, I was attracted to the agency’s schedule in 1972, got a job there, and stayed for 14 years.

I finally left.

I couldn't resist the allure of my own agency and its promising  seven-day work week.

Tom Messner worked forever in advertising. In politics, he avoided the predictable negative bent and did positive ads for Reagan in 1984 and for Bush in 1988 along with Bush’s convention film. The agency he co-founded created NASDAQ’s first branding, Volvo’s comeback, and Fox News’s "We Report. You Decide." Then learning from the pols he partnered with (Roger Ailes in particular), they brought attack ads to such formerly benign areas such as telecom (MCI). At 73, he’s doing two things he never did before: Blogging here on wildly unconnected subjects coming on the heels of last year’s adventure: the writing of his first play, a musical "Dogs" destined now for either Broadway or The Pound. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The  four-day week was invented, initiated, and implemented for the first time in 1971 by Carl Ally Incorporated, an ad agency founded by Carl Ally in 1962 in the midst of the "Mad Men," three Martini lunch era.
ally, dmv, new zealand, world war ii
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2018-53-31
Tuesday, 31 July 2018 04:53 PM
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