It’s January, it’s raining, and it’s dark, so why are the team at STC Expeditions in such high spirits?
Starting 6th January for 12 weeks, we are trialling a four-day week.
All full-time employees, of which there are currently five in the company, will be cutting their hours by 20% whilst retaining full pay. A rota system will ensure the office remains open as usual from Monday to Friday.
The benefits of working just four days a week have been well documented in recent years and a growing number of companies worldwide have conducted trials. Improved work-life balance, increased productivity, increased staff happiness, reduced sickness, better staff retention, better gender equality are just some of the observed outcomes. A 2019 study by the Henley Business School found that 64% of employers already offering a four-day week say they had observed an increase in productivity.
It seemed only sensible to find out if it works for us.
It’s fair to say staff were quite shocked when STC Directors Chris and Adrian announced the trial in December, but now it’s had time to sink in everyone is very excited about it. The move to a four-day working week is not just about trying to find a better work-life balance; it’s about improving productivity and hopefully helping us grow as a company. Last year we invested £10,000 in a new database to streamline our business. With that now in place and working well, we can test various prioritisation techniques and efficiency savings which will hopefully mean the four-day week is a feasible next step. We’re not blind to the potential issues though. The team is fully aware the trial can be halted, extended or adjusted depending on what happens. That said, we will all be working hard to try and make it a success!
It’s not all about less work and more play though. Everyone, directors included, are being asked to spend one of their extra days off each month volunteering for a charity of their choosing. A range of options from conservation work and volunteer prison visits, to walking group co-ordinators and becoming a ‘befriender’ to older people are currently being organised by the team.
One further day a month is to be spent on a ‘Big Ideas Day’, where we each have the freedom to work on a new idea or project related to the company’s work. There are no stipulations – it could be further efficiency savings, a new school expedition itinerary or potential marketing campaign. At the end of the month, we each have to give a five-minute presentation about the ideas we’ve come up with.
The idea behind the volunteering and big ideas days is twofold; firstly, to hopefully have a wider positive impact in the community, but also to give each of us the space to think. It’s important we all get the chance to reflect on our work, the company, our products, how we interact with our clients… and how all of it can be improved.
With five of us thinking ‘big’ each month, that’s 60 days a year of free-thinking innovation. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it.
The trial ends on 28th March 2020 at which point we’ll be looking at a variety of key indicators, questionnaires and discussion points to evaluate whether the four-day week should be adopted permanently.
Exciting times. Watch this space!