After Simply Business took the decision earlier this year to introduce a four-day working week for some of its staff, Insurance Times asks the industry whether the time is now right to seriously consider this option


Tali Shlomo, people engagement director, Chartered Insurance Institute

The culture of the working environment has changed a lot in recent decades, from women appointed to senior roles, to an increasing focus on re-balancing the gaps in opportunities for the diverse communities that make up society. What these changes have highlighted is that if companies want to benefit from a broad range of skills and ideas, they need to create a working environment that works for everyone, because it is in allowing one to bring their authentic self to work that we are best able to unlock their talent.

Creating a balance between life and work is vital as we continue to evolve our strategies and attract and retain the best talent. Many have embraced flexible working practices, including part-time work, compressed working weeks, or the ability to work outside of the traditional office environment. Our emphasis should be on output rather than presenteeism.

The important thing is to put in place the right conditions to let every individual achieve their own full potential, regardless of circumstances.


Peter Blanc, chief executive, Aston Lark

My immediate cheeky answer would be ‘why would I want to increase my working hours?!’

Seriously, this is a meaningful long-term demographic challenge facing the world – not just insurance broking. As more and more processes become automated, there will be less and less need for human intervention; but history shows that humans will simply replace work with other activities, particularly creative and leisure pursuits.

I think the more immediate and likely changes will be around working style; we already encourage more flexible working and I think these trends will increase. As a business owner I’m completely concerned with productivity and results, not hours spent in an office; we should be outcome focused, not method focused.

I want our client-facing staff to be contactable by clients, able to help and advise clients wherever they happen to be and to have systems and processes internally that facilitate that sort of interaction. Ultimately I’m sure it will lead to less time spent in the office, but also even more fulfilling careers.


Emma Saunders, head of resourcing, Allianz

At Allianz we’re continually looking at ways to improve customer experience and employee experiences. There are studies suggesting that productivity and employee engagement can increase with a four-day week as, although time management has to be carefully considered, it can lead to a healthier work/life balance. There is also evidence that this would bring further equality into the workplace, allowing parents and carers to schedule their time more effectively. 

However, this has to be balanced with the needs of the customer and technological support available – there would be business consequences if for example the whole UK workforce took Fridays off. As it currently stands we offer a variety of flexible working options, including compressed or part-time hours and shared paternity leave. These are agreed depending upon the needs of the individual and the needs of the business area and is just one practical example of inclusion within a professional setting.


Tracey Kinsella, head of people engagement, culture and strategy, AXA UK

We fully embrace flexible working, but we also need to meet customer expectations. Some colleagues do their weekly hours over four days instead of five, but for certain roles, that isn’t possible. Many other arrangements are available, from staggered hours to remote working to part-time work or job sharing. We will consider any flexible arrangement that fits a role’s requirements; those are usually dictated by its teams’ organisation and customer demand.