When we introduced the four-day week into our small law practice in 2019 (pre-pandemic days), it brought both challenges and opportunities.
As a firm, we try to introduce one major innovation event every year and this was all about striving to improve the much vaunted ‘work-life balance’, improving our colleagues’ home life and mental health/wellbeing.
So the answer to the question of ‘should every employer be considering the four-day week?’ is an undisputed yes. What type of employer wouldn’t be open to a discussion around the topic of improving opportunities for their team and in return building a more focused and energised workforce, which would also result in greater retention and a fantastic tool to recruit new employees?
When we now recruit almost the first thing that any interviewee mentions is the coverage we received around the four-day week: more than 11 million hits globally on our social media during the summer of 2019 as we were informed we were the first firm in the world to introduce the four-day week and increase salaries at the same time.
There is the unfair and unproven argument that a four-day week only attracts those who want an easier ride and to work less. Our experience shows it attracts high-calibre individuals who want a great career alongside a great life and if anything, they work harder in the reduced hours they have available.
I appreciate that there are many sectors that may struggle to adapt but flexible working can be introduced as long as all parties are engaged and open-mind thinking is encouraged. The four-day week really is an umbrella phrase for everyone to reconsider how we can all do the work thing better, because work as we know it in its traditional format is broken.
As long as I am at the helm of the business we will maintain the four-day week as a valuable tool for all of our colleagues to live a better quality life. It has even attracted new clients to us, and as one client put it, “if you treat your staff that well, you can have my business because it must mean you treat your clients just as well”.
There are many unintended consequences of introducing the four-day week and I would urge any employer of any size business and in any sector to start the conversation and engage their employees at the earliest opportunity. If they don’t, and with the working world changing more than ever post pandemic, their best people just might decide to go and work for someone who does listen and offers flexible working in all its forms.
The ball is very much in the employer’s court.
Trevor Worth is chief executive and founder of Portcullis Legals