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Norfolk fish and chip shop to trial a four-day working week

Platten’s Fish & Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, is taking part in a national trial of a four-day working week.

The restaurant and takeaway, which employs up to 50 staff during its peak summer months, starts the pilot in June with staff dropping from 40 hours a week to 32 hours while getting paid exactly the same amount of money.

Manager Luke Platten hopes the move will bring about a better work-life balance for staff and, in turn, improve productivity and customer service.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to be part of the pilot scheme,” says Luke. “It demonstrates to the team how much we value them and gives us an opportunity to have a good shot at a work-life balance.”

Luke was inspired after reading The 4 Day Week, in which author Andrew Barnes conducted an experiment in his own business in New Zealand that found staff are only productive for around 2.5 hours out of their day.

“We thought if we could incentivise and challenge our staff to think differently and change the way they do things to be more productive in the day, in return what we’ll do is give them back free time.”

Platten's has joined the pilot scheme, run by 4 Day Week Global, having introduced a similar initiative last year in which staff moved to a two day on, two day off shift pattern to help protect teams working through Covid.

Luke comments: “The team was absolutely blown away by it because suddenly in the middle of August in a coastal resort they were getting time off at the weekends to go to BBQs or spend time with their families. So when this trial came up we jumped at the opportunity to be part of it.

“Obviously we are a seven day a week business, so we can’t give everyone Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, but what we’ll do as of June is say you’re currently doing four 10 hour days, we’re going to pay you exactly the same but do eight hours a day.”

Luke is confident the trial will have a positive impact on his business, even in light of a raft of price increases. He adds: “We have been asked how on earth can we give away more when we are getting price increases from every direction. But our stance on that is, yes, prices are going up but customers are still looking for value for money. What we’re doing is offering a better customer experience because we’re more efficient and our staff are happier. We’re based on making memories at Platten’s and this is a real opportunity to pull it all together for us.

“If our staff have a good work-life balance, we’ll benefit from that.”

It is hoped the initiative will also help improve recruitment and retention within the business, with Luke adding: “A lot of people have moved away from hospitality because it has had a bad reputation and I think companies do have to look at different ways of encouraging people back into the industry. It is really enjoyable if the right structure and support are in place.

“As a local employer, we’re really looking forward to giving this a shot and we hope it opens up more opportunities for more local people to come and join our team.”

Plans are currently being drawn up for how a four-day week will work when the longer summer opening hours kick in, with Luke anticipating expanding from two teams to four with an early shift and a late shift on a two-by-two day pattern. In addition, Luke is looking at how to measure productivity and engagement of the team and their thoughts around the initiative.

He adds: “There is a lot of stigma and scepticism around the idea of a four-day week but I think those people that take the time to fully understand it and delve a little deeper into it will see it’s a win-win situation.”

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