When the global pandemic struck Australian shores, it gave many businesses like 25-year-old recruitment agency Morgan Consulting an opportunity to reflect on how their business operated.
From working at home to hybrid working arrangements, it soon became apparent as COVID restrictions eased that the five-day week was at risk of becoming antiquated.
Morgan Consulting, which has offices in Melbourne CBD, Sydney and Scoresby, learnt a lot from working through the pandemic and decided to forge a new path – introducing a work four days, get paid for five model.
What began as a formal trial has quickly been adopted as the company’s work model.
Speaking to The Brief, Morgan Consulting Managing Director Marc Richardson and CEO Andrew Aston spoke about their company’s refreshed approach to the work week and revealed how staff have reacted to the new, unmandated work model.
“We came out of the COVID lockdowns with some very clear opportunities for change; so, we used it as an opening to not only refresh our business brand and technology but also started to think what the ideal recruitment agency would look like,” Andrew said.
As part of the company’s mental health initiatives during the peak of the pandemic, reduced work days were offered to staff, an offer Andrew said was well received. When the office was in full operation again, being paid for Friday but taking the day off, was offered as an option for staff – with no strings attached.
“I think today people are looking for greater integration between life and work, so before we implemented the four-day work week we looked at different business models in Australia and overseas,” Marc said.
“Research tells us working four days and getting paid for five actually led to an increase in productivity.”
Even though a long weekend is now an option, not everyone has signed up to the idea. Marc said this wasn’t a surprise.
“You’re always going to get people who will work five days a week and that’s the way they like it. Our approach is not a mandatory requirement,” he said.
“The key to our methodology is an option and our staff have a choice on how they want to utilise their Friday as they wish.”
Andrew echoed Marc’s sentiments.
“We allow our staff to plot their own course – it’s a choice and they have really risen to occasion,” Andrew said.
“They feel empowered and feel trusted to be able to position the hours however they want.”
While introducing flexible Fridays has been an overwhelming success for the Morgans Consulting team, there were a few wrinkles to iron out.
“When we first started doing this, there were things that we didn’t think about and naturally it came to the surface – not really challenges or issues but things we had to work through,” Marc said.
“For instance, if you are taking annual leave – a week is five days not four days per se.”
When asked whether they would recommend the work four, paid five model to other businesses, the duo acknowledge ‘it may not work for everyone’.
“It worked for us because we are an outcomes focused business,” Marc said.
“In my opinion, a four-day week is not suitable for every business. It will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis; but I think it’s certainly worth reviewing if it will suit your business model and staff.”