Aconveyancing adopts 4-day working week

Natalie Moore, founder and director of Aconveyancing discusses her plans for being one of the first UK companies to trial the 4-day working week.

The challenges of the past two years have certainly shone a light on better ways of working and we can be certain that the business practices of the past no longer serve us in 2022.  But while a more holistic approach is needed to address office hours and improved work / life balance, working from home doesn’t work for many people in our industry.

Conveyancing relies on efficient workflows, consistent communication and a close-knit team, which is challenging to replicate online. 

While advances in technology have allowed us to connect remotely and I welcome the acceleration of paperless processes, the buzz of the office environment, especially on Friday’s, our busiest time, is what allows us to work quickly and efficiently in the fast-paced environment we’re all used to.  Working from home brings with it slower workflows, diminished team spirit and blurred boundaries of when they are online / offline.

Because flexible working and working from home are not the same thing.

We have always championed flexible working in the business at Aconveyancing, many of my staff, including myself, are working parents and need the ability to accommodate an ever-changing schedule. But after consulting with our team post-lockdown, it’s clear that the option to work from home isn’t attractive to most of them.  For many, working from home means they spend more time online, and lack productivity.

 Consider productivity from another angle.

Productivity used to be measured by the hour – specifically an 8-hour working day. Evidence of increased productivity from reducing working hours is mounting and there is credible research to show that most workers achieve much of their ‘to-do’ lists in shorter bursts of time (2 hours and 23 minutes to be exact).  By approaching productivity from a different angle and not measuring it simply against the number of hours online, we can make gains in delivering the same output whilst offering a better work / life balance.

Readdressing the work / life balance.

My staff are busy people outside of the office, with their own lives, hobbies and families.  Their lives don’t – and shouldn’t – revolve around the job. And with that in mind, we are actively working with our internal Investors in People ambassador team to trial a 4 Day Week scheme. Our pilot will be a coordinated trial with no loss in pay for employees.  We’re finalising a roll-out programme so staff are clear on how they can opt-in if they want to get involved with the trial. This runs alongside our current flexible working scheme because we are mindful it won’t work for everyone, but the only way we will make change in our industry is to test and learn.

The only way we’ll make positive change is by introducing genuinely flexible working options.

Technology has removed barriers to new ways of working, and employers have seen the benefit of allowing for flexibility among their workforce. We are all re-evaluating our work / life balance along with the fact that conveyancing is a highly pressured profession, it’s a great time to implement new practices, better ways of working and share this across our industry to collectively reduce stress levels and staff turn-over.   Not to mention the positive environmental impact of reduced hours, with staff spending less time travelling to and from the office.

It’s time to rethink the way we do things, and 4 Day Week is a great starting point to improve lifestyle and productivity.  Let’s change the false narrative that working long hours is good for productivity, let’s champion the importance of family time and leisure time.  By doing this, we’ll collectively attract and retain the best talent in the legal profession and pave the way for others to follow.


2 Responses

    1. Gavin

      Definitely the latter

      In the 1970s I headed a team undertaking high volume residential purchases for a London Authority which introduced flexitime. I put the team on nine day fortnights and and divided it into pairs. Each partner had to cover the others work on their flexiday and each team had the same day off in alternative weeks

      The main advantage was that everyone treated flexidays like holidays and cleared their desks beforehand

      The main disadvantage was that solicitors ringing in with enquiries would not accept that two members of staff could answer them and insisted on wasting time by calling back

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