Balancing the Grind With Andrew Barnes, 4 Day Week Architect, Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker

Andrew Barnes is the Founder of Perpetual Trust and Architect of the 4 Day Week Global Movement, a community where anyone who is interested in this work concept can connect, share ideas and help push the movement forward.

This idea of the 4 day week was born out of the impact from the successful program launched at Perpetual Guardian in 2018.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My career has taken me from study at Cambridge University in Archaeology and the Royal Navy through to banking in the UK and then latterly in Australia.

I moved to New Zealand when I purchased a trustee company, Perpetual Trust followed by Guardian Trust. I merged these brands with a few other smaller acquisitions to create Perpetual Guardian. It is in this company that I ran the 4 day week trial and implementation and out of that programme created with Charlotte Lockhart 4 Day Week Global.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Each day is different. I have a number of business interests which in any day I will “work” in. I chair a council owned organisation (Regional Facilities Auckland) as well as a publicly listed company (PaySauce) so a day will probably include some work for either or both of these.

Through Perpetual Guardian, and also personally, we often attend charity events or visit a charity to see what they do. I sail on the weekends when I can on our classic yacht, Ariki, which we restored a couple of years ago. We have a wine business on Waiheke Island where we live, so I enjoy being involved in that when I can.

A large focus of each week will be on the 4 Day Week initiative. This could be media interviews, talking to businesses interested in the initiative, writing my book. Travel for work is a large part of my year, with the 4 Day Week and other business interests.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I am in the privileged position that I can work when I want and where I want. This is not something many people working have as an option. However, in my businesses I encourage all my management to challenge themselves and enable flexible and remote working alongside of our 4 Day Week initiative.

One of the lessons I learnt from our trial was that when you hand a problem around work hours and terms over to the staff to find solutions which suit them, they will solve the problem for the business without management having to try to find a one solution fits all package.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Delegate. Know what work you have to do, want to do and can not have someone else do. Use technology to arrange projects, time and to create efficient ways of doing tasks within your businesses. Charlotte and I also share an EA and so that certainly helps.

5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work life balance is a very popular concept at the moment. When I started the 4 Day Week initiative, I was really interested in what productivity in my business actually looked like, and if it could be improved then I could give staff time off.

Understanding what is productivity helps clear the business from unproductive tasks and activities. Once you approach your work from that angle you will find the balance takes care of itself.

As a business owner and leader, I have to exercise self-discipline to ensure I take proper down time, not clear emails when I am taking time out, setting an example to my leadership team.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

I have an iPad which I read on, it is not connected to my email, social media or call programmes. This allows me to read in peace, I block out time (well actually my EA does) in my diary each week for time away from meetings and phone calls.

I use this time to read, think, walk, rest, exercise or just enjoy time with my partner and our family. I always find this time gives me energy and creativity.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I read avidly, but seldom business books, I have a series of 1930’s crime novels I use to really unwind, I love political books, biographies and books about adventures.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Have a structured diary.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

My work life balance will look different to your work life balance, it is not a competition and it is not a game. It is very important you find the level which suits you, your family and your health.

And remember, people only realise they have burnt out once it happens. Being self-aware and managing your life should be something you think about, ask for advice on and listen to those who love you.

If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.