Tag Archives: Architect

2 months update /// LC


There’s been a lot of this in the last 2 months!

2 months have gone by pretty quickly and we’ve entered our last month of this trial.

So far it has been an interesting challenge and journey in evaluating whether this for me is a valuable and viable way of working.

As I started to understand at the end of February, this intensely condensed working pattern is not suited to my situation (I’m Manchester based).

I continue to notice the diminished contact with colleagues and directors, by being in the office one less day a week than my ‘standard’ days.

And although I travel less, saving 4 hours a week of commuting, the overall tiredness I accumulate in the days I work 10 hours, coupled with 4 hours of commute, is surprisingly overwhelming. The rest of the week is filled by other commitments in Manchester, so it’s not like as if I just put my feet up and rest.

I think 5in4 can work well, and I see some of my colleagues enjoying this work pattern, for those people who live locally to their work place and have no commuting time to add to a 10hr day.

I also realise, more strongly now after this experience, that such a different working pattern (i.e. the office being closed on a Friday) can work, without added stress, if others share and understand this. At this moment in time the construction industry has still a long way to go before the above can happen.

One discussion we had, in the office, right at the beginning of this trial, was the wish to find time to do personal activities that we would find enriching, activities that currently are not as valued as paid work, such as volunteering, looking after your own children, looking after the elderly, undertaking research and so on.

If there’s something that this recession has taught me is the importance of placing renewed value in non-paid work, as much as paid work. If we are to break the capitalistic society that isn’t making us more happy, on the contrary, then I think it’s imperative to wean ourselves off an all consuming working life.

Based on my personal experience, I think 5in4 can allow this to happen for those who have no added commute, as it still enables some flexibility to be retained in the hours at either side of a 10hr working day. When you add a commute like mine, for example, that flexibility unfortunately is lost.

This interesting article from the Guardian discusses the recent phenomenon of “work-life merge” where technology is allowing us to flip between private and work life seamlessly, which may be viewed as a good ‘solution’, but that has inevitably blurred the boundary of where one starts and one finishes. I don’t think this is an inherently good thing.

I have reached a point where I’m now weighing the positive aspect of less commuting – in fact for me the most positive aspect of this trial has been the ability to reduce my personal carbon footprint – against the negatives of increased tiredness and reduced interaction with my colleagues.

Stay tuned…


This month we asked our partners to give us feedback on their experience and impact by our longer days. Here’s my husband’s input:

What I have mostly noticed since my wife has been working her new work hours/day pattern is that she is a lot more tired when I do see her. This is probably down to the fact that she leaves the house an hour earlier than previous (around 6.30am) and arrives home an hour later than before (around 9.15pm) and consequently often misses breakfast and eats her main meal of the day late. Although it is only for two days of the week, being out of the house for close to 15 hours for those two days is taking its toll and I doubt its sustainable in its current format beyond this short trial period.

I suspect that this arrangement may be better suited for those who don’t need to commute as far as she does and is contracted to a full week’s work – but I may be wrong. My personal feelings are that a part-time employee (3 days week) should continue to work just that – 3 days at normal hours – and that to create a 5in4 version for a part-time employee is more problematic than a feasible solution. It also runs the risk of making a flexible work pattern of 3 days/week less flexible for her and her commitments to both Bauman Lyons and those back in Manchester.


Wk02 – Adjusting [LC]


This week has consisted of more snow (!), teaching at Sheffield School of Architecture and good, productive meetings (a nice change).

2nd week is nearly over already. At this pace, before we know it, the first month of this trial period will pass us by in a flash!

So far (but these are still very early days), I’m finding this new set up positive overall.

Because I get up quite early anyway, the earlier alarm clock hasn’t bothered me at all. I am actually finding that getting up at 5.30 is much easier than 6.30am. I enjoy the quietness  before the hustle & bustle of the day commences.

On the other hand getting home much later than ‘normal’ is not being very easy nor pleasant. BUT it is compensated with the days that I don’t travel, because as mentioned previously, I work part time.

One thing that makes the longer days/condensed week harder for me is travelling in bad, winter weather! Today for example, Leeds has been covered by few cm of snow. You can imagine the chaos! I am writing this post on my slow train home. Tonight I won’t get home till long gone dinner time. But at least, I hope, these are rare occasions, so it’s important not to dwell on it too much.

I am picking up good vibes from my colleagues. Certainly there seems to be a general good mood in the office. I haven’t yet asked whether this is because of the longer week end.

Amongst the projects I am working on, one is an invited competition with a very interesting brief, but I expect the next few weeks to test and challenge our 5in4 format quite a lot. Will we manage our time effectively within a ‘shorter’ week? Will the tight deadline be just too tight?

Will our Fridays be truly off? In all honesty, I don’t know. But at least we are trying and we are not sticking our heads in the sand pretending the current culture in our profession is ‘just fine’. The architectural profession has a serious, latent problem with unhealthy long hours, which must be challenged (a global problem, not just for British architects). Similarly with another latent issue which is still pervading the profession.

Onwards & upwards!

Crunching those numbers!
My 4in3 means I now travel to work one day less than ‘normal’ and I found that:
– I save 4 hours a week in train travelling;
– I commute 80 miles less a week;
– I save approximately 7kg of CO2 from travelling, a week (calculator used and its assumptions);
And… (wait for it…)
– I save approximately £80 a month in train fares!

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.