The prospect of a 4-day working week is being increasingly discussed as a viable option to modernise the approach to working and productivity.
We recently caught up with Paul Reynolds - a Leasehold Retirement Team Manager at Home Group Housing. Paul currently utilises and advocates for a 4-day working week, so we took the chance to delve into its benefits and potential shortcomings:
What is the current layout of your 4-day working week?
I work ‘compressed hours. So, 37.5 hrs a week made up of Monday to Wednesday, 8am to 6pm and Thursday, 8am to 5:30pm.
I still have full-time hours to get everything done, squished into 4 slightly longer days. In my case, I was regularly working longer than the 9am - 5pm anyway (as so many of us do, especially those of us who travel), so compressed hours were a natural choice. I requested the arrangement from my manager, who approved it and I haven’t looked back.
What are the 3 main positive changes you have seen since moving to a 4-day week?
Work-life balance - I enjoy a 3-day weekend with my family every week.
This means I am rested and motivated in the coming week.
I am grateful to my company for the flexible approach and so I’m less likely to want to leave, as I have grown used to this arrangement and its benefits
Are you more focussed and productive or has it increased your stress levels trying to fit 5 days’ work into 4?
It’s not made the slightest difference as the overall hours are the same. I get to sit and do emails in the evening when others are not, so I am not swimming against the tide and make inroads. I have an hour in the morning to reflect, plan, visualise and prepare. My days are more productive and less stressful as a result!
Have you implemented any new processes to allow for a 4-day working week with your employer?
In my team of middle managers, there are 4 of us. We all work 4 days, so we had to schedule it so that Wednesday was kept free for us to all meet up on occasion. We also use remote working (surface pro and Samsung phones) to facilitate agile working from around the UK or from home.
What benefits do you feel a 4-day working week could bring to the industry?
Modernise the approach to work
Improve staff satisfaction
Improve staff retention
Allow proper rest for, often stressful, customer facing roles
Reduced sick leave
Programmable, transparent and manageable
‘reasonable adaptation’ option for stress, returnees from sick leave etc
Increased availability to customers e.g. 8-6 o’clock
Attractive to potential recruits
Do you find that a 4-day week affects your ability to interact with Clients, Lessees, and Contractors?
No. My availability is on my outlook calendar, on my email footer, and on my voicemail. Everyone knows my availability and who to contact when I am not about. With a degree of planning, there shouldn’t be a situation where a customer is left with no one to contact. It just might not be me on a Friday.
Have you had any clients object to your 4-day week and if so, how do you handle this?
No. It was just accepted, and they appreciate themselves how important time with family is. Most folks support that kind of ethic - if you mitigate any impact on them. With good comms and systems that allow them to reach a service even when you are not in, they are happy.
Ultimately, we are talking about 1 day. Most things can wait 1 day, and when they truly can’t, you have other options built into your team/business. Also, in a real emergency, I’d still pick up my phone or be available. Our escalation procedure includes my home number so colleagues can reach me.
Do you feel it gives you a competitive advantage when hiring new staff?
I know that for me when thinking about a move, it is a crucial factor. If I can’t work a 4-day week in my next role, the salary is definitely going to have to reflect that. It is a really important benefit for me and potential recruits.