2 September 2021

It's all in the balance


We hear the phrase ‘work/life balance’ being used frequently, but what does this really mean?

The definition of ‘balance’ according to my Google search is; “the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control.” Couple this with the concept of protecting your mental health, it seems that, on the surface at least, to have true ‘work/life balance’ there must be an element of control and stability.

2020 was a real challenge for most people in one way or another. In order to navigate our way through a pandemic, many turned to baking banana bread, Joe Wicks and daily walks/runs/cycles to gain some sense of normality. With so many working from home, the lines between work and private life became increasingly blurred.

At RTALS LLP, our staff are quite literally the beating heart of our organisation. We cannot deliver the service we pride ourselves on without them. Therefore, before we make any changes as a firm, we will always consider the impact on both them and our clients. In July 2020, we made the rather bold move to introduce a 4-day working week for all full-time staff. There was no implication on their salary nor the hours they worked for the remaining 4 days.

This is not a new concept and there have been proven benefits seen in other countries around the world including New Zealand, Sweden and Finland. However, It does take some getting used to and it did involve regular consultation with our staff to make sure it was working for them.

Initially, we ran it on a trial basis for three months and it received mixed reviews. Whilst some staff enjoyed the freedom of a three-day weekend, others struggled to manage their workload. With some further tweaks, we made the policy permanent from April 2021. Every full time member of staff has a ‘buddy’ that they work with. The working week is either Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday. Your ‘buddy’ has the opposite day off to you to make sure all work is covered and our clients always receive the high standard of care we pride ourselves with.

The benefits are two fold; as a company we have found that our staff are far more productive in the four days they do work. They seem more energised after three days away from the office and, in turn, this boasts morale. We also encourage all staff to use that extra day to do something active and look after their mental wellbeing.

When asking our staff about the benefits of the scheme we received feedback such as, “I like a 4 day working week because it allows me to spend more time with my family,” as well as “even though I am working one day less I feel like I am actually getting more work done.”

As a law firm, we believe we are forward thinking when it comes to managing our clients’ cases and are always keen to expand our knowledge on the latest rehabilitation and technology advancements. However, we cannot deliver a first class service for our clients if we do not first look after our staff. Giving our staff a better balance between work and their personal lives allows them to take control and do more of what they enjoy. While the change may seem daunting at first, we would actively encourage other employers to consider whether it would work for them and their staff.

Jodi Gordon - Partner -  RTA LAW Scotland - Guiding you through the uknown


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