Seconds provider Evolution Money is one of 70 UK companies now taking part in a six-month trial of a reduced working week without any sacrifice to the pay of employees.
The premise is that employees will keep 100 per cent of pay for 80 per cent of their time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.
It’s suggested that a four-day week creates happier healthier employees who are motivated and more focused on achieving key targets so there is no impact on output under the model.
Almost eight out of 10 employees with a four-day week are happier and less stressed, according to non-profit group 4 Day Week Global.
Reduced working days also cut the carbon footprint of businesses and reduces barriers for women in the workplace.
Atom Bank switched to a four-day week at the end of last year.
Mark Mullen, chief executive at Atom, said at the time: “We believe the 20th century concept of a five-day week is, in many cases, no longer fit for purpose for 21st century businesses. Its introduction originally allowed for the establishment of the weekend, with all the benefits for employees this entailed. At Atom, we feel the time is right for the next evolution in the world of work.”
He added that giving employees a better work/life balance would have a positive impact on both productivity and customer experience.
A difficult model for one-man bands
Working a four-day week is a concept that Lewis Shaw founder at Shaw Financial Services embraces.
He said: “It would work best where half of the staff work Monday to Thursday and the other half work Tuesday to Friday.
“That way, there’s always coverage in the office, customers can get hold of someone, and there’s no loss of continuity of a case.”
However, for the hundreds of brokers who are essentially one-man bands working a four-day week without impacting client service could be tricky.
As an adviser that works alone, Shaw feels it is difficult to currently put the processes in place to make it feasible.
He hopes to hire staff later this year and would be open to allowing them to work reduced hours “as long as the job is getting done”.
He added: “In the main I think everyone should be output focussed rather than input.”
Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, also believes that it is a model better suited to workplaces with a larger employee base. He raised the issue of potential for complaints from customers if they are unable to reach their adviser.
He added: “The only way I see it working is with a wider team supporting each other so someone can respond to queries if someone is off. Saying that I don’t know a single broker packing five days’ work into a five-day week at the moment so I’m not sure how feasible it is.”
How could busy brokers work four days
The frenetic pace and heavy workloads brokers are already sustaining was seen as a hurdle by others.
Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage & Finance, said: “A four-day working week could really become a reality for some job roles, however anyone working in the mortgage industry will know the time-sensitive pressures we are under.
“I take calls and communicate with my clients out-of-hours, weekends and even when on holiday. For me to say that I only want to work four days a week seems like a wistful desire for the impossible.”
Graham Cox, founder and director at Self Employed Mortgage Hub, said the mortgage industry “needs a radical overhaul” for the four-day week to work for advisers.
He said: “There’s too much legacy technology still being used, not enough open banking, poorly designed and worded forms and so on, all of which makes the mortgage adviser’s job much harder than it ought to be.”
However, Donna Matthews, founder and principal mortgage adviser at Honeybee Mortgage Solutions also backs a four-day working week and, despite working largely alone in a busy industry, feels she has managed to embody the idea.
She said: “I work Monday to Friday with occasional evenings or weekends if my clients need me, but I take time out through the week. So overall, a four-day week would accurately reflect my working hours. I think that as long as you remain productive, get your work done and put clients first, it’s fantastic.”