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If absenteeism in your law firm is driving you crazy, you aren’t alone!  Many law firm owners are equally frustrated with excessive absenteeism in the workplace and have taken some proactive steps to get the problem under control:  Their solution:  The Four-Day Work Week.

Now, before you assume that this model is an automatic no-go for you and your law firm, take just a minute to consider the possibility.

For most law firms, the biggest day for sick days, PTO, and absenteeism is Fridays. (Fancy that?)  So even if you don’t have an “official” four-day work week in place already, you probably do anyway, at least to some extent.  And it’s understandable.  Law firms are stressful places. Your staff must deal with disgruntled clients, heavy caseloads, and numerous deadlines. It’s no wonder they are exhausted by Friday, and longing to start their weekends.

If many of your employees are going to take the day off anyway, why not give it to them? By giving them something many are taking anyway, you boost morale and foster a happier workplace culture.

But what about productivity?

If you give your staff a day off every week, isn’t that going to hurt your firm’s overall productivity?

Surprisingly, businesses all across the country that are opting for four-day work weeks are finding that the shortened work week does not negatively impact productivity, when they make their expectations clear:  Employees are free to take one day off but are still expected to get all their work done each week.  The responsibilities remain the same, but the employees have the opportunity and flexibility to work a bit harder for four days, so that they have that extra day off – or the option of working from home that day instead of coming into the office.

Many businesses, including law firms, are finding that their employees appreciate the trust and opportunity they’ve been given with the four-day option, and work even harder as a result.  Employees have the flexibility to improve their work-life balance, without jeopardizing their job security and they work all the harder so they can keep this perk. The four-day work week ends up being a win-win; business owners are able to offer a 4-day option for their competitors do not offer, which helps with hiring and retention.  They are also building a happier and more productive workplace culture in the process with happier staff & employees who are better able to juggle the demands of work, home, family, and personal lives.


The issue of employee absenteeism and the 4-day work week solution was recently the subject of a **PILMMA Members Listserv thread**. Our members — law firm owners from across the country– chimed in on the pros and cons of this hybrid work model. They also shared some tips on how to make the 4-day work week successful, including recognizing that for some positions (like reception and intake), the 4-day work week isn’t an option unless you have staggered the days off so that the position is covered all week.  Another suggestion was to keep the day off consistent across the board, such as Fridays, so you avoid the bookkeeping and management   nightmare created when employees pick random days as their “day-off.”

While giving your staff a day off each week could seem counterproductive, it may well prove to be a catalyst that promotes and encourages productivity in your law firm. Businesses across the country (and many European countries) are giving the 4-day work week a try with great success. The key is to make your expectations clear: the staff still need to get all their work done for the week but are empowered to do so with autonomy and flexibility.

For many businesses, law firms included, the 4-day work week model allows business owners to “give” their employees what they were “taking” anyway – but in a way that builds trust, promotes positive workplace culture, improves productivity, and aids in employee hiring and retention. With all these potential benefits, the 4-day work week merits serious consideration for law firm owners seeking to build a better and more successful law firm.


*** PILMMA’s Members-Only Listserv is just one of the benefits you receive when you become a PILMMA Gold or PILMMA Mastermind member. The Listserv gives our members 24/7 access to invaluable feedback, ideas, vendor vetting, and case referrals from other law firm owners across the country. For more info on how you can become a PILMMA member, click here

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