All Right? met the Barrer & Co. team in November 2018, when the Christchurch consultancy was preparing to cut down the number of hours in their working week.
Sarah and her two staff members, Kylie and Rocio, were eager to spend their Fridays doing more of the things they loved, like cooking, yoga and walking the hills.
When we checked back in with the Barrer & Co team in April 2019, there was no silencing their enthusiasm surrounding the benefits of working a shortened week.
Barrer & Co. Director Sarah Barrer says the four-day work week has boosted her wellbeing, by giving her more time to clear her head.
“When I come to work I am on fire for four days. Then I get to ease off and relax when it gets to Thursday night.”
“We’re all doing stuff we love on a Friday, so we’ve got more time for ourselves, which creates a whole different personal purpose.”
Sarah says the longer weekend helps declutter her mind, so when she walks into work on Monday, she is fully present and prepared.
It’s the same for Rocio.
“I don’t get the Sunday blues anymore. I think that’s massive because the week – you can really feel it’s shorter.”
The team all use their extra day off very differently, delving into the things they love.
Kylie uses her “Kylie day” to do those things she really enjoys, like cooking a beautiful meal.
The shorter week has allowed Rocio to launch a baking blog, a project she dreamt of starting for quite some time and one she wouldn’t have got off the ground if not for the four day week.
“I really don’t think I would have launched into a project like that.”
Sarah kickstarts her long weekend on Thursday night. It starts by dropping her daughter at football training and unwinding into the weekend.
She then uses Friday for yoga and a hill walk up Rapaki.
As for their valued clients, they’re asked to contact Sarah if anything urgent arises on the Friday.
If they do take the time to email on Friday, Sarah will respond on her day off – but from a cafe, while enjoying a coffee or waiting to meet friends for a catch up.
The team don’t deny that working Monday through Thursday means they must use their time wisely.
They have less internal meetings, and interactions with clients that were once face to face have become phone calls, where appropriate.
Sarah says it’s about working even more strategically than they were before, and having a clearer direction.
For Kylie Malin, it means setting a to-do list on Thursday, which is then ready and waiting for her come Monday morning.
“I come in on Monday and I am ready to go,” she says.
“Then when I finally get to the end of Monday, I’ve achieved so much already just in that one day. Whereas Monday could sometimes be that day where you were getting back into the stride of things. So it’s full go Monday through Thursday now.”
Sarah says the real tell-tale sign of whether the change is good for both staff and the business financially, will come at the 12-month mark.
She is conscious of the intensity of the work and she certainly doesn’t want to see her staff burn out.
“There’s not a lot of space in the work day for us, with a four-day work week. We are on all week, working really efficiently but I can see that it has to be able to be sustainable in the long term.”
Her team are the busiest they’ve ever been and they now have more clients to balance over a shorter work week.
Sarah says they raised their hourly rate, to meet the growing demand for services, which has put them in a great position, financially.