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  • Writer's pictureRichard Meier

Friday is My-day: Stories take on the 4-day work week

We’ve been conducting an experiment at Stories for the past 4 months.

Running something like a four-day week rather than a five-day week. But a little different to the usual arrangements – more on that later.

I’m sure we’re not the first in the property industry, but I haven’t heard of many giving this a go. A trend accelerated by the pandemic, it seems even more obvious to us that the traditional 5 day working week is dead. And is a hangover of the twentieth century.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t live in an alternative, utopian world where I kick back most days and lead a life of complete leisure. I am in fact ‘working’ by writing this blog on a Saturday morning. My youngest daughter is happily absorbed making play-doh vegetables on the kitchen table next to me, and the rest of the family is enjoying a lie in after a busy week. Meanwhile I’ve got this buzzing in my mind, so time to put it down on paper.

Apart from supporting the well-trodden principles of flexible working, why else have we been testing this out?

Well, as we are all accessible these days pretty much 24 hours a day, we felt that it is important to push back as individuals and organisations and set some boundaries.

We have observed that work hits you at all hours, but so do other commitments such as family. We can easily rush through a week in business mode and then straight into the weekend one can be looking after toddlers, parents, friends etc. It is all too easy at certain stages of our life to unsustainably rush from one environment to the next. Whilst this can be fun, it can also be to the detriment of family, work and ultimately ourselves.

One of my fellow co-founders Paul who has a young family was doing exactly that. He tells us he is only partly joking when he says he does his best work between 8 and 10 twice a day. In thinking about this initiative, he talked about how much he would value going for a swim at the lido once a week; time to oneself – no toddlers, no work - to reflect and also do some physical exercise. Some breathing space. This is really important particularly where you need to be creative in your ideas and solutions, which is certainly what Stories and others in the industry need to be to overcome the many challenges and crises presented in our world today. So giving yourself time to stand back, reflect and let your brain subconsciously work stuff out is hugely important.

Or for my other co-founder James – time to read and expand thinking, pick up woodworking, to spend a day with a grandmother, to catch up on the week’s business and prepare for a great weekend.

So, here at Stories, ‘Friday is My-day’.

The deal is this:

1. Meetings booked in on a Friday by exception only.

2. There is no expectation from the business that you do anything that day.

3. It is yours to do with what you wish.

In practice you end up doing a mix of life and work things. But best of all – you have a choice. I often end up going for long walk with my wife so we can have a proper conversation. I might meet a builder, I might complete various pieces of Stories work that I would like to quietly clear before the weekend, or I pick up on other activities such as the local pre-school that I chair. And I love to be cooking up another project – at the moment I am spending quite a bit of time working out how I can make my family’s living circumstances more regenerative for the environment.

So far it’s working.

We are more focused and more effective with Stories. Stories benefits from the space afforded to individuals – greater creativity, and healthier/happier people.

And it’s working because it is built on trust. Trust that everyone will honour their responsibilities to the business, but also to themselves and their families.

As we grow the Stories team over the coming year, it will be exciting to see how others take to it and how fresh eyes evolve this way of working.

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