Diary of a high street conveyancer: 9th May 2023

Two Bank Holidays in consecutive weeks – two four-day working weeks. It has been nice after the never ending workload of the last two to three years to have a more relaxed start to the month.

The Bank Holiday working weeks are great. It is possible that we forget that the first day of the week is Tuesday and it can throw out the rest of the week, but a three-day weekend is great.

There are firms which are now promoting the four-day working week to their staff and although I admire the sentiment, I don’t think that it works. So, forgive me if I am being controversial, but let me share my thoughts.

We live in a 24-hour society. We know that clients want an immediate response. We discuss endlessly in the conveyancing world how clients – and others involved in the process – email and then call if there is no response to their email within five or 10 minutes. And we all know that we will be asked for an update at 5pm on a Friday and then asked for another one at 9am on a Monday.

So how does this work if you, the conveyancer, only work four days a week? I can see that it would work if you had two conveyancers or a team working closely together on all cases, but I am not sure that you would be able to allow them to have a full caseload.

My experiences with firms with four-day working weeks is not good. Let me give you an example of one: I called to do an exchange only to be told that the conveyancer was on her day off. I left a message; no one called me back. I called again as I was being put under pressure by the agent (who coincidentally had recommended this particular firm), and insisted on talking with someone. I was told to call back the next day as it was the conveyancer’s day off.

It was clear that the conveyancer who was meant to be covering the file did not have time to deal with it and that they would rather I called back back the following day when the conveyancer dealing with the matter would be available to discuss it with me.

I was getting nowhere with the exchange so had to explain to my very disgruntled client that we could not exchange as the conveyancer was on a day off.

Start again the next morning – only to be told by the receptionist that the conveyancer was catching up on her messages from the previous day and that I would need to wait until the afternoon before she could call me back.

An even more disgruntled client… When I finally managed to speak with the person I needed to, I was told that she was still dealing with other matters that had not been dealt with the day before.

It sounds as if that is not a firm where the four-day working week trial had been thought through properly. I really wanted to know how their client felt about this. Did the client even know that exchange had been delayed? I would hazard a guess that the agent had not said anything as it was their recommendation.

I think that it can work, but needs a very efficient team spirit and you cannot have a conveyancer with a case load of someone who works five days. It’s a debate to have…

My final thought is that I go into my office not knowing what may happen that day – we all know those transactions which suddenly come to life and it could be an urgent exchange, discussion about a price reduction, anything where the client needs the consistency of the conveyancer looking after him. If, as we have said before, conveyancing is no longer a nine-to-five job in this 24-hour society, how can it be a nine-to-five job on only four days?

5 Responses

  1. A whole article based on one person’s experience on one file, denigrating the very idea of a 4 day working week, and seemingly designed to show how hard working the writer is and how lazy the conveyancers on a 4 day working week are.

  2. I would wholly agree with the comments in this article . Add in the conveyancer “working from home ” to that part time mix and you have the perfect recipe for delay .

  3. It is this type of attitude that creates burn out. Manage client’s expectations and explain that one day is not a ‘delay’. Make it clear you are not available ’24 hours a day’ and your emails will be treated as post and responded to accordingly. All this ‘I want it done yesterday’ attitude only exacerbates errors and complaints when the burned out conveyancers are attempting to live up to this unreasonable expectation.

  4. how absurd that this is being posted when their are conveyancers who work less than 4 days already due to lifestyle. ie young children/chronic illnesses. Maybe think before you type next time. how much conveyancing time was wasted on this article being written. Also if i am not mistaken, there have always been 24 hours in a day. why now is it a demand? you simply set expectations to your client on your turnaround time. you employ people, not robots.

  5. How dare someone have a day off. Exchange was delayed a whole day – outrageous! I assume completion was affected? No?

    Tell me again why Conveyancers are burnt out?

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