Why a Four-Day Work Week Will Improve Our Customer Service

Our recent announcement of a four-day work week has seen a lot of focus on the positive implications for our staff, but beyond, that we also wholeheartedly believe that our clients and industry colleagues will also benefit from the change.

While last month was the ‘official’ launch of the four-day week, in reality it’s been a concept we’ve been slowly introducing into the business for more than a year.

The idea originated in the same way all great ideas do – a chat amongst brothers while having a beer – and started out as an extra day off each month, then each fortnight, then two half days a week, and now we’re finally at the point where staff who have been with us for more than 12 months are only working four days, for no loss in pay.

There’s no catch, no extra hours to make up on other days, we genuinely believe this is the right thing to do for our staff.

We also believe it’s the right thing to do to ensure that we can not only continue to deliver the same high-level of service to our clients, but actually improve it.

I know what you’re thinking – how is it possible to improve service, while working less?

The first thing we want our clients and colleagues to understand is that while our staff might be working one day less each week, our business is not.

No one knows better than us that freight forwarding is a 24/7 industry, and our office will continue to be adequately staffed five days a week to ensure operations continue seamlessly.

In order to allow this to occur, we’ve made some key business decisions;

  • Hiring More Staff: Our EES family has grown by 14 staff, to ensure we have adequate numbers of employees on at any one time. Not everyone has the same extra day off, so it means we can keep consistent staff numbers throughout the week.
  • Cross Training Staff: One of the best decisions we’ve made has been cross training staff. Rather than individuals knowing only one role, staff are now trained in various roles and tasks, which means multiple people can handle specific responsibilities. Not only does this mean client service is seamless regardless of who is in the office, it’s also given our team the opportunity for professional and personal growth – which has provided an overall boost to the client experience, and uncovered strengths in our team we didn’t realise we had.
  • Business Efficiencies: That meeting that could have been an email? It’s now an email. We’ve spent the past year making hundreds of internal processes and procedures more efficient, so we’re not wasting time double-handling documents, sitting in lengthy meetings, chasing up details or waiting for that single staff member who knows the password to a program to come back from lunch. It’s streamlined our operations, freeing up staff to get on with more important tasks – like providing our clients with up-to-date information on their shipment.
  • Technology: Technology has been a key driver in allowing us to streamline our processes and find those efficiencies. The introduction of various software, such as our much-loved Hugh Trackman tracking system have smoothed the waters in many ways. We’re now a completely paperless office, which improves our record keeping and reduces the potential for lost or missing documentation, and once again speeds up our overall operations.

By slowly introducing this change over a long period of time, we’ve been able to develop solutions for any issues or bottlenecks as they’ve been identified.

We very quickly realised that not everyone would be able to have a three-day weekend each week, for example. We instead introduced a ‘rolling’ days off system to maintain adequate staffing levels and keep the system fair.

We also have developed a strong handover system to ensure all tasks are completed on time and not delayed unnecessarily, regardless of who is in the office on any one day.

Clients and industry colleagues are also benefitting from our cross training and shared knowledge as they no longer need to wait for a specific team member to call them back – instead, any number of people in our team can answer their query, immediately.

There are other benefits too; as a business we have seen productivity increase, sick days have reduced, communication has improved, and staff retention is high. All these things boost the overall business and allow us to continue to focus on our clients.

At the heart of the four-day week, is allowing our staff to have more time to enjoy life. Whether it’s family, personal interests or simply catching up on some extra sleep, we want our staff to feel valued and enjoy coming to work each day.

The flow on effect is our clients get to interact with staff who are – we hope – happier and healthier, both mentally and physically – and it’s from here that the best customer experiences can occur.