Michael Chaplin runs Tweed Electrical, a growing trade business in New South Wales, Australia. He joined us as a guest on our Behind the Tools podcast and spoke about his personal goal as a business owner: a 4-day workweek.
It’s an aspirational goal for any worker, let alone a busy trade business owner. But there’s been plenty of discussions lately around switching up the old-fashioned 5-day, 40-hour workweek — whether that means shorter weeks, shorter days, flexible hours, or remote working.
Increased flexibility may work for those in an office, but is it realistic for tradespeople? Imagine making your admin systems so efficient you can step back and only work four days a week. Well, that’s exactly what Michael Chaplin, owner of Tweed Electrical & Data, is focused on achieving.
To learn more about whether tradespeople thought a 4-day workweek was desirable or even viable, we polled our Instagram audience. Here's what they thought:
“If you have to do anything more than once, create a process for it,” Michael says.
Serious health issues forced Michael to quickly realise that life was for living, not just working. With his priorities refocussed, Michael set out to find some more freedom.
By setting his business up with efficient systems and procedures, Michael reckons he can claim a full day back for himself every week. That means more time doing the things he loves like spending time with family and finally giving his boat some attention.
Michael’s philosophy is something that resonates with a lot of tradespeople. It’s the entire reason Tradify exists — because tradespeople deserve to have more free time on their hands.
“It’s hard to put a figure on how much time Tradify saves, but it’s probably as much as a day a week.” - James Brunton, JJ Electrical
David Miller, the owner of Miller & Co. Landscaping, has been successfully running a 4-day work week for more than 2 years now.
David’s inspiration for the idea was the same as Michael’s — a healthier work-life balance. He says that it was common for the team to get carried away working 50 or even 60 hour weeks, but those extra hours weren’t necessarily productive or conducive to a positive work environment. He introduced a 4-day workweek to improve employee wellness & happiness, increase efficiency during the days they do work, and move away from a culture that pushed unsustainable hours.
The team at Miller & Co. Landscaping now work 4-day weeks with 9-hour days in winter and 10-hour days through the rest of the year. It’s still a 40-hour week most of the time, but David says the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’re a lot more efficient. While we’re at work the team has the energy to go hard and fast while keeping the workmanship top notch,” says David.
As far as clients go, David says that’s the easy part. He tells all their clients upfront how they approach their work, so everyone knows exactly what to expect.
“Clients have responded really well. You just need to be transparent and clear with your communication.”
David encourages other trade business owners to consider it, although he admits it may not work for everyone — a 4-day workweek could be difficult for those operating under strict timeframes. He also recommends that you should make sure you do it for the right reasons.
“It needs to come from a place of generosity and kindness. It’s about creating a workplace where your employees can thrive.”
It’s all about culture for Miller & Co. Landscaping. David has created an environment that shows employees they are valued at all times, not just during work hours. As a result, loyalty and staff retention is at an all-time high. Their current employees have stuck around for years now, which is rare in the trades, where good employees are notoriously difficult to find, let alone keep.
So what’s the one thing stopping other trade business owners from trying it out? David says it just comes down to mindset. To those tradespeople sticking with the way they’ve always done things, David has one message:
“Be open to new ways of working. Business owners should want to improve things for their employees. You need to be the change.”
If you're ready to make a change and want to free up some time for you and your employees, give Tradify a go and start your 14-day Free Trial. No credit card required. No pressure. Or take a look at Tradify in action during one of our weekly 30-min live walkthroughs.