How it started
As a leadership team we have created, through trust and respect, a safe space for talking through ideas, challenging each other and working together to get to a place where we have considered everyone’s needs. Pete, Chas and I (Sharon Bray) care deeply about the wellbeing of the team and what’s right for our clients. Every idea starts out with great energy and opportunity but here’s the thing: the hard work really starts when you want your ideas to translate to reality.
Covid (remember that!?) made us think differently in so many ways. It forced a different work pattern on us that maybe we had considered but were not brave enough to implement, but what did we learn? We believe that everyone works just as hard at home and that having your home comforts around you can enhance your working day, but there needs to be balance, and we think that comes in the form of human connection. It is well documented that being around others allows you to thrive, boosts your mood and allows you to work through your emotions. So, what’s the answer!? I guess there isn’t one, apart from giving people something that they cherish most, time!
So, what’s the answer!? I guess there isn’t one, apart from giving people something that they cherish most, time!
It was easy really to agree the four-day working week trial, I think it took a few seconds. But getting to the point of actually doing it took much longer. Pete (the book worm) got straight to the research. He quickly consumed The 4 Day Week by Andrew Barnes, and Shorter by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. We read articles and talked to other companies who had already made the move (shout out to anyone we talked to).
The main message was clear: working four days a week was a wellbeing success, productivity was good and even increased in most cases, but the process was still evolving.
How it’s going
After all this research, we believed the biggest change would be to mindset and habits, for us and our clients. The priorities: time management, managing workload and stress levels, while remaining completely accessible to clients.
We moved away from the habitual belief that everything must be done by Friday! We work with new clients on average, over a 12-week period. We don’t rush; we interact via our portal/email/phone, so they know where we are at along the journey - communication is key.
It’s easy to think we are being efficient by getting through a volume of work at pace, but our preference is to work through our day, taking time to produce the best possible outcomes. Whenever I tell the team to chill out and focus on the task in hand before worrying about the next, Elliot can often be heard saying ‘what is time?’, funny but also true - it takes as long as it takes to complete a piece of work with pride.
We are fortunate to be very busy working with a diverse range of existing and new clients as we help guide and support them through their financial journey. There were initial concerns that our workload would only be amplified by reducing the amount of time that we are available in the week - how would we deal with that? Change is often received better by exposure, so we phased into a shorter week, shutting from 3pm on Friday at the beginning of April, then half-day from June with a full day off on a Friday from 1st September. This has allowed us and our clients to get used to a different work pattern, to be more organised in our thought process in the beginning of the week and reinforced the need to sync with other members of the team.
One of the most important questions remains: what do our clients think? They love it! We talk to both existing and new clients to let them know how we work; we quite often have the response of ‘can I come at work at Jacksons’ which is really validating! We have adapted the working hours of the other four days opening from 8-6 with the team working different patterns to meet the needs of clients, not asking them to work longer just to be a little more flexible, and this has tied in with hybrid working from home, which has already proved to improve wellbeing.
The only thing we ask of our team is to be present and focused, and to work with others in the team to lift each other up, while giving clients 100% of our energy across the four days we are in. Focus is imperative in making this work. To make sure things run smoothly, we have one person working from home behind the scenes on a Friday, monitoring the phone and the inboxes for emergencies. For me, that will mean a catch up and creative day! Pete says he’s going to use his Friday covering to be a writing day.
The only thing we ask of our team is to be present and focused, and to work with others in the team to lift each other up, while giving clients 100% of our energy across the four days we are in.
If you’re thinking of taking the step to move to the four-day week, do it! It makes you look at all aspects of how the business runs, it makes you really think about what’s important to your team and clients and it shines a light on collaborative working. We could not have made this giant step without the team: they are open to change; they have created new ways of working and together we are constantly challenging our own thinking to make sure we are on the right path.
We will keep you in the loop of how this is going. In the meantime, have a think, what would you do with a day to yourself, every week, fully paid? The options are endless…
Written by Sharon Bray