Looking for comments on four-day working week

Journalist: Lana Clements, Freelance

ended 08. June 2022

Hello 

I am writing about the four-day working week and how this would work in the mortgage industry….  story for Mortgage Solutions

 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-61570021

To be clear, this is packing 5 days of work into 4 through smarter processes / higher efficiency as oppose to taking off one day a week and doing less work as a result.  

With that in mind, looking for thoughts on whether this is a good idea / can it work / how would it work. Is there anyone doing this?

Also interested on any thoughts on productivity / efficiency that tie in…

thanks

 

Lana

5 responses from the Newspage community

Being a complete industry maverick and disruptor, in theory I'm always keen on doing things differently if it means a better result. The research seems to show that this is the case. The only problem is when a case goes Pete Tong but the advisor is off and the client can't get hold of anyone, it has complaint written all over it. 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 5 days work into a 5 day week at the moment so I'm not sure how feasible it is!
It could absolutely work, and it's a great idea to give everyone more work/life balance. This is not a new idea; as far as I am aware, the first proponent of this was the pre-eminent Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes in his little known essay 'Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren' published in 1930. Keynes writes that as technology and productivity increase, we should be able to work less and enjoy more leisure time. He goes so far as to say that even if we didn't need to work, we would need to have some form of labour "to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!" It would work best where half of the staff work Monday - Thursday and the other half work Tuesday - 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. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the trial is a roaring success and can be adopted by as many people in the UK as possible. After all, people aren't just economically viable subjects; your lifetime is approximately 4000 weeks in total if you're lucky; what a senseless waste of your only chance of existence to spend it on hold to a lender.
As a young mortgage adviser in my twenties I worked for Santander - or Abbey National as it was back then, when did I get old?! - I used to joke with my colleagues about entering politics and one of my main manifesto promises was to insist on employers offering a four day working week. It was a very popular suggestion. Nowadays the focus on mental health and wellbeing is greatly enhanced and 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.
Instead of dictating a 4 day week, or a 5 day week, why not just allow people the flexibility to choose their working patterns, depending on the needs of the business, and their personal preferences. 4 days packed into 5 days might work well for one person, but not necessarily all people. It's about time we had a more sensible approach to working practices, agreed by real workers and businesses, instead of dictating pre-conceived ideas dreamt up by academics in Oxford and Cambridge who may never have done a real weeks work.
It's a great idea, and trust me I'd love it to work. But the mortgage industry needs a radical overhaul for a 4 day work week to work for advisors. 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 advisor's job much harder than it ought to be. No doubt, it will improve over time though.