Northampton's own Bookishly store to join global trials of a four-day working week

It is hoped the move will improve staff's work-life balance as well as their mental health

By Max Pearson
Friday, 25th March 2022, 2:55 pm
Updated Friday, 25th March 2022, 2:56 pm

Local Northampton business Bookishly has announced it will be joining an international trial of the four-day working week, with input from both Cambridge and Oxford universities.

The business will be starting its trial in April, with support from 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit community established in Australia that promotes "the idea of the 4-day work week as a part of the future of work".

The effort involves partnerships with leading think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University.

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Pictured: Louise Verity (centre) with her team

Louise Verity, 39, who is the founder and Director of Bookishly, said that the four-day work week was already on the cards, but that the global trial will help them make the most of it.

She said: "It was my idea. But it was kind of a collective decision as to how we were going to do it.

"Most businesses in the trial are staying open for the full working week. But we realised that that wouldn't work for us because we're a relatively small team. For every person who had a day off, that would mean another person doing extra work each day to cover them.

"So we decided to close completely on a Wednesday and make that everyone's paid day off. So people can have their weekends, have two days in, then a mini weekend off, and then the next two days in.

"I want my team to have the same work-life balance as I have, since I don't work full-time.

"Most people say they use their day off for life admin, like laundry and food shopping, so that frees up their weekends to do whatever they want to. Several of my team have side projects going on as well, so I want them to have the time to work on those, since that's how my business started out.

"It's pretty exciting."

The local business will be trying out this new format alongside over 30 other companies, spread across the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

It is hoped that with each company's data put together, employers can get a better picture of what the four day week could offer both them and their employees.

In Bookishly's case, Louise argued that customers would be willing to wait a little bit longer for goods, especially "luxury" ones, and the added freedom for staff could well improve their productivity.

Bookishly’s Designer Gemma Harbour said: “We already have a good level of flexibility at Bookishly and working 4 days a week instead of 5 will really add to this. With a baby on the way, working one day less in a week will make a huge difference in the cost of childcare.

"I’m confident that my productivity will improve as I focus my tasks around fewer hours in the week. I’m looking forward to the shift in work-life balance and spending more time with my cats, and my husband!”

Bookishly’s Studio Coordinator Hollie Longland said: “We are going to be closing completely on Wednesdays so none of us will need to cover other people’s tasks on their day off. The pandemic has shown us that we don’t need to post orders out every day to meet our customer’s needs.

"People understand that not every company can provide immediate delivery and some things are more important than that. Adding Wednesday’s orders into Thursday will be straightforward and still gives us time to get orders to customers for those weekend wedding gifts.”