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  • Writer's pictureMichael Pettyt

What is Learn, Share, Recharge?

We've become increasingly aware of the issues surrounding poor work/life balance and its effect on mental health, well-being and productivity. To buck the trend we have taken the decision recently to adopt a 4-day working week across our team meaning that we only work on client projects from Mondays to Thursdays. On Fridays, we... Learn, Share, Recharge...

Learn Share Recharge (or LSR for short), is our unique approach to a 4-day working week that gives everyone in our team the time and space outside of working on our fantastic client projects to develop as individuals, share knowledge and collectively recharge. We firmly believe that by adopting this approach we are ensuring that our team are always at the top of their game. Whether sharpening and expanding skillsets, presenting and demonstrating new techniques and championing good team health, we intend to set a more positive precedent for our industry.

LSR follows a 4-week pattern. The first two Fridays are spent learning, the third Friday sharing and the final Friday recharging. So how does it work in practice? Find out how we structure and define each day and what that means for our team.

L = Learn

For the first two Fridays of the month, everyone on our team takes time to work on personal development, training courses, and studio projects focused on them hitting personal goals agreed upon in their most recent appraisal.

A selection of the resources and courses we've provided to our team over the years
A selection of the resources and courses we've provided to our team over the years

The structure of a Learn day is designed to be flexible and our team are encouraged to work wherever they feel most comfortable and to their own schedule. Those days are about them and their development needs, so autonomy around how they spend that time is vital to its success. If you want to take advantage of lovely weather in the morning and go for a long walk and get your head down and learn in the evening then that's great! Similarly, if you have commitments on Friday and would rather learn on Saturday that's totally up to you. As long as we are seeing the fruits of your learning journey in due course we don't mind.

Some of the output from our Learn days

S = Share

A recent share session with Jake from our team giving a talk about ToonBoom Harmony
A recent share session with Jake from our team giving a talk about ToonBoom Harmony

On the third Friday of the month, we meet together as a team in our studio to share what we've learnt during the previous two Fridays or to discuss an interesting concept or technique picked up while working on a live client project. We also invite speakers from our wider community to come to our studio and talk about their business or area of expertise. Going forward we are planning to open our doors for a community share day every quarter, so if you are interested get in touch!

A recent creative typography activity the team took part in during one of our share days
A recent creative typography activity the team took part in during one of our share days

R = Recharge

For the final Friday of the month, we switch off from screens and take a day to recharge as a team. This might mean going for a walk in the countryside together, visiting a gallery or exhibition, doing a group physical activity or spending a rainy day playing board games.

A recent rainy day recharge playing Catan

It's a chance for us to reconnect with each other as a team face-to-face and get away from the day-to-day of studio life and project work. The aim is that we return to the studio on the Monday with our horizons broadened, feeling recharged mentally and physically and full of energy for the week ahead.

What this means for our clients

Our clients get the benefit that our team are consistently at their absolute best for the days which they are working on their project, rather than being burned out or unfocused due to working long hours, 5 days a week sitting in front of a screen. By constantly learning new skills and techniques and ultimately sharing those with the team we are staying ahead of the curve with developments in creative processes and technical advancements which all feed into providing better value to our clients - delighting them with creativity and surprising them with innovation.

What this means to our team

We asked our team for some feedback on LSR so far and had some great responses...

"When I'm given the time to focus on improving my skills and learning new things - the result is a happier, more skilled and more productive me." Greg Norton - Senior Motion Designer & VFX Artist

"The LSR days are vital to keeping my skills fresh and to broaden what we can offer to clients. It's the perfect opportunity to keep up to date with trends and new techniques and to really explore and enjoy our passion for the work we do." - Tom Majerski - Company Director and Colourist

"Fridays are always fun with the constant rotation of the LSR schedule. I feel it really adds a positive and enlightening end to the week, prepping me for the next one with new skills, information or games tactics!" - Jake Cawthray - 2D Animator & Illustrator

"Since having children, maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been something much higher on my agenda. Since introducing LSR I feel more focussed during the 4 days I'm working on the business and client projects meaning I can take the time I need to personally develop and have more time with my family" - Mike Pettyt - Founder & Head of Creative

A focus on health and learning

We recognise that a big factor in attracting and retaining the best people at our studio is not only about remuneration, it's also about providing a healthy work environment and a positive work/life balance, where everyone is constantly encouraged to learn and develop their skills. Our aim is that the introduction of LSR will go a long way to give our team the time to grow as individuals whilst keeping their mental and physical health in check.

Examples of expertise and knowledge developed and shared recently

A recent morphing animation Jake completed as part of his Master Motion Design Course

We are already starting to see the fruits of this new approach. Recently Jake, one of our illustrators/animators has been sharing some fantastic new animation techniques learnt on Ben Marriott's Master Motion Design Course. Greg, our in-house motion designer / VFX artist has been sharpening his style frame skills with Design Bootcamp from School of Motion. Mike our founder and head of creative has recently been doing a course with Motion Hatch for business development and Tom our company director and colourist has also shared some amazing Cinema 4D and Redshift techniques that he used on a recent teaser trailer for a client.

LSR and our core values

We see LSR as a flag bearer for our core values of:

  • Being Open to Collaboration - by reaching out to the community for insight.

  • Removing Friction - by encouraging the development of stronger team bonds.

  • Challenging Conventions - as evidenced by the introduction of LSR itself.

  • Always Learning - by dedicating time to personal development.

  • A Healthy Team - by focussing on mental and physical well-being.

The long-term goal

Ultimately this is only the beginning of our journey with LSR. Our ultimate long-term goal is to adopt a simple 4-day week where we work on client projects and personal development four days a week and have a flexible extra day off in the week. For now, we are going to keep a close eye on the impact LSR has on our team as a whole and individually, plus how it affects our working relationships with clients. If it continues to prove to be a positive move then we will take steps towards our ultimate long-term goal of a 4-day working week.

What do you think?

Now the cat is out of the bag and everyone knows what we do with our Fridays here at Tracks and Layers, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the concept of a 4-day week and the way we have adopted it.

Do you think it will work? Is it something you've seen adopted elsewhere? Can you think of any other benefits or pitfalls? Write a comment here to get the conversation started or on one of our social posts about the subject. Over the coming months, we will be sharing more from our Learn, Share and Recharge days so keep your eyes peeled for those posts too.

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