5in4: Wk00/01 – MM

I’m Matt, associate at Bauman Lyons, aged 33 and living with my fiancée in our own home in Huddersfield with our 10 month old baby boy & our new au-pair Lucy.

For me the scenario will be slightly different to the rest of the office as I have already been working a reduced week (4 days in 3 long ones to be roughly accurate) for about a year now and as such have begun to realise just how significant a difference this can make in both obvious and unexpected ways. However, what is most surprising now is that it’s things that were completely unexpected that have become amongst the most valued to us.

Less working time means less income but that hasn’t necessarily meant less money. We obviously have been saving on travel costs, childcare and so on, but it’s the small things that have really contributed to us actually having more money in the end, rather than less. Or at least that’s how it feels! One thing’s for sure though: we are certainly living richer lives for it.

The small things that have made the difference weren’t quite so obvious at first and have generally come about through our change in circumstances. The first one we recognised (which came about through me giving my fiancée a lift to work, already +£1.50 in our pockets, saved from the bus fare) was just how good the local weekday market is. I can’t believe how awful the fruit & veggies have become at big supermarkets and how much we’re shelling out for them. We’re now paying a lot less for a lot tastier produce, eating healthier and generally behaving more sustainably – supporting local business and even beginning to realise what’s in season, not because we’re reading up on it but because it’s reflected in the prices! I’m sure this is stuff my Grandma used to know! Who’d have thought??!!

I should also say that the reason I can give my fiancée a lift is because we work slightly more flexible hours (a 9.30 start instead of 9am for me), which has literally revolutionised our mornings, especially since having a baby. Such a small change as this, has meant less time sat on the motorway – as I now miss the worst of the rush hour traffic – therefore enabling me not only to drop-off my fiancée at her workplace on my way to mine, but above all it has enabled us, as a family, to have breakfast all together. I can’t quantify how important this is to us – not least because this is the only time I would get to see my son on a work day, as I wouldn’t normally get home before he was in bed. How about that??!!

5in4: Wk00/01 – VB

As I now work 29 hours in 4 days (increased from 26 hours) this change doesn’t affect me too much – however, I have noticed that the week has gone so much quicker – on Wednesday I thought it was Tuesday eek!

From a personal point of view, I like mornings and enjoy my job so getting up nearly an hour earlier hasn’t had too much of a major impact although the queue for the bathroom takes some getting used to. When I used to come in the office it was quiet and I had time to set out my stall and get ready for the day – now when I come (as all staff have been in an hour already) the office is busy and straight away staff are needing me (a small point but noticeable).

To work with the rest of the team I changed my day off from a Thursday to Friday – you may think that’s not much of change but it took me a long time to find a great Yoga class on a Thursday and now cant go :o( – also when I’m not at work I’m am carer for my elderly parents and the day change has impacted on them. This may seem a negative thought but I am confident the 5in4 can work for the office – with a little outside understanding and good communication within the office!!

5in4: Wk00/01 – SW


• Part of working efficiently is to know when to abstain from things which are a waste of time.
• Reduced hours places a greater impetus on effective working and as such a regular (and dynamic, changing) assessment of personal work-planning, team resource-planning, what actions to take/not take; becomes very important.
• Which means lots of sleep and coffee!! (Or vitamin B…)
• In the first week however, it seems to have made us cheerful and motivated.
• A question in my mind: how will it work if/when Clients demand a presence on Fridays? Occasional will be OK, but do we make a stand and say that we don’t work Fridays if pushed? Or can we negotiate and reason our free time when challenged?


In June 2011:
• There were 31million workforce jobs in the UK, shared by 29million people.
• 21million people were working full-time (of them 4million were self-employed).
• 8million people were working part-time & 1.5million people were working on a temporary basis.
• Of those 21million people who work full-time posts flexitime is an available feature (eg for Civil Servants, Public Servants, Self-employed and a range of other Private Sector jobs).
• What would happen if all the rest of the full-time employed workers changed hours to 5in4…? Would it change expectations of availability??

5in4: Wk00/01 – LC

What my commute usually looks like

What my commute usually look like!


I’m LC, I joined Bauman Lyons as an Architect a year ago and since starting I have worked part time.

I live in Manchester and commute to Leeds by a combination of train and bike. I’m married and I’m not a parent, yet. Why am I sharing this? Because I know very well that if I was a mum, my needs/responsibilities towards family would be quite different from my current situation.

Nonetheless “5in4” (4in3 for me as part time) is a step up, in working hours, than what I was on before we began this interesting trial.

In the last 3 years I have actively been searching for a slower, lower-carbon lifestyle. I have had the possibility of taking a year off work-in-practice to study at the Centre for Alternative Technology for an inspiring MSc. This opportunity not only enabled me to learn new knowledge and skills, but actively instilled in me an understanding and appreciation that a very fulfilling life can be lived with less.

This has brought me to value working part time in an effort to find a better life-work balance. My week is full but richer because of it; I am able to give voluntary work just as much value as paid work and I feel I am a better Architect for it!

Hopes & Worries:

  • I am excited to be part of an architecture practice which is not scared to challenge the profession status-quo, by giving the “5in4” a try while still understanding the need and value of flexibility…
  • …Although part-time, I do think these new hours are probably going to push me very hard. I will need to leave the house at approximately 6.20am and I will not be back till 9.15pm (I am quite accurate with my timings as I am now a veteran in my train+bike commute!)
  • Being able to work one of my days from home will enable me to cut down on commuting hours and also overall tiredness. It will also help me to concentrate and be very efficient without the disturbance of phone-calls etc.
  • The isolation of working by myself will be balanced, hopefully, by the days spent in the office.
  • The set up of the 5in4 (4in3 for me as part-time) will enable me to continue being involved in the various environmental and community projects I have help set up and run in Manchester over the past 5 years.
  • A worry, which I am hoping will be unfounded, is that the level of tiredness will be too much to bear. A 10hr in the office, will mean a 14.5hr day for me, over two days alone I will clock up 30 hours approximately.
  • Having to give up on vital and engaging personal activities. For example with the new working hours, I will now not be able to attend the monthly get together(s) of Manchester graduates from the Centre of Alternative Technology held on last Thursday of the month. I find this monthly event a burst of energy with regard to renewed knowledge and enthusiasm to live sustainably and support others in doing so.
  • Hoping that if tired I will not take it out on my husband.

5in4: Wk00/01 – GS

Going into week one

Concerns or Apprehensions:

  • Yet to be seen if we can detach ourselves from the immediacy that modern society seems to demand. Even though we are all contactable on Fridays not all tasks are as efficiently dealt with remotely.
  • Not sure yet whether 5in4 will mean we can save money by taking the pressure off the need to make rapid purchases due to lack of time or whether it might mean spending more on another day of activities.

Opportunities & Enthusiasms

  • 2 days away from work never seems to be enough to sort out all the jobs that need doing around the house, spend time with my 2 year old son, time with my wife and time for myself.

Usually this means that everything is compromised.

I hope an extra day at home will lead to better quality time with and for all.


  • The night before the start of the 4 day week….. I am nervous – will this work? Will daddy sleep through his early alarm call (highly likely!), will Daddy stay awake while reading bedtime stories, will Daddy really be at home on Friday or will the occasional meetings start to be arranged on this day? With all this in mind we are however very excited about this new way of working. What a great idea! Thursdays are the new Friday, more quality family time and a happier Daddy!

Kathryn and Harrison

  • Just worked out I will save 30kg of Carbon per year in not driving in one day . I wonder how much carbon as well as time is spent in saving at least 30% of the usual community time. Less inefficient engine idling in traffic and stop starts. Commuting reduced by 110 hours per year.Great..but less time for Radio 4!

5in4: #5in4 the first week – IB

Gambia just announced that the whole country will work a 4 day week as if to confirm that #5in4′ plugs into the Zeitgeist. The excitement of starting a shorter woke me up so that here I am at 4 am.

I am thinking about what I will do with my Fridays. A day of’ taking in’ rather then’ churning out’. I am imagining getting up only to make food and cups of coffee. I am imagining reading 6 Degrees by Mark Lynas, ‘Engaging with Climate Change‘ by Sally Weintrope and ‘The Craftsman’ by Richard Sennett all at the same time , all in one day.and remembering what I read. I am imagining watching the backlog of Ted Talks , browsing through my Flipboard app , reading Building Design, the Guardian and last week’s Observer. I imagine tweeting about it as I go along and finally learning what LinkedIn is all about.

Meanwhile a letter has arrived to confirm that we have been shortlisted for a very nice (paid) competition and that the briefing session is on…………..FRIDAY !


Spirits are high at 7.30 in the morning- most of us chose early start over a late finish.

We are also beginning to clamp down on unnecessary meetings. We have saved 16 hours of work just yesterday by not attending meetings where we could not add real value- we sorted what needed to be sorted on the phone instead. We also calculated a saving of £8 per week on Friday coffee/milk and Yorkshire Post!

5in4: Wk00/01 – TV

I’m not really sure what I am going to do with an additional day off to make a long weekend. Right now I can think of more things that need to be done than 3 months of long weekends provide time for: After playing with Noah, DIY is very high on the list – not least ripping out my flat roof balcony and installing a new one as the last straw of a 6 year undying leak, stripping and repainting the stairs, building 3 sets of shelves, restaining the timber floors, sanding the painted in carpet fluff out of the skirting boards, insulating the spandrels throughout.

It’s about time I started getting through some of the vast numbers of books I purchase – for the most part these are large architectural monographs, reading them late at night after a hard days work [and in a general state of tiredness because of my newborn sons sleeping pattern been more than a bit different to mine] does not usually result in very much of the thought behind them sinking in. I think I completely read about 1 in 4 with the other 3 been skimmed.

Other thinsg I might do: Finish respraying/chroming the colnago and put it back together, replay Final Fantasy 7, get serious about my allotment, try not to spend more money online [I’m not making any savings at all from no commute].

I am considering trialing Friday as a non internet day in an effort to save money and get stuff done but I am not sure this can work with smartphones and potentially taking work emails etc.

5in4: Working a 5-day week in 4 – Why?

We at Bauman Lyons Architects, a small team of 10, have decided to try for 3 months to work a 38 hour week over 4 days on the same salary with the same benefits.

We will record our collective and individual experiences throughout this period and at the end review it all to see whether we wish to continue to work in such a way.

There are several reasons for wanting to do this…

Over the last 4 years, since the financial crash of 2008, parts of western society has been nudging towards a great shift of values away from consumerism in favour of a more meaningful balance between life & work. Think Tanks such as the New Economics Foundation (NEF) have developed new metrics for measuring wealth based on happiness rather than on GDP, developing a roadmap, ‘The Great Transition’, of how we might get there.

In the same period other major challenges have emerged: the real time impact of climate change, the rapid disappearance of middle class jobs, the rising costs of living – especially of energy and increasingly of food – and the loss of trust in our major institutions: politicians and financiers.

But also, in the same period, the developments in technology and social media have made working conditions more flexible.

There is a growing need to change many things and we are no longer looking towards government policy to do this. We want to test some of our own ideas about how to live better within our means.

We hope that by working as hard as we always have but in a shorter week of longer days it may allows each one of us more time with family, more time for developing individual interests, more time to grow & make and more time to enjoy it all.

We also hope that the reduced weekly commute will free up valuable time and bring financial benefits, that the longer days will enable us more peer-to-peer learning and that the culture of overtime in our profession will thus be challenged.

We expect many challenges.

Over the next 3 months we will blog about our experiences, ‘warts and all’.