07 Dec BLOG: Pro Drive IT’s Journey to a 4-Day Working Week
Pro Drive IT’s Journey to a 4-Day Working Week: A Win/Win for All
Watch Oakleaf’s Jen Clay interview Chris Morrell from Pro Drive IT on their journey to a 4 day working week here.
If there was something you could do as a SME business leader which would improve employee wellbeing, engagement, productivity AND help with recruitment – all without having a negative impact on business output – would you do it?
Pro Drive IT, a company based in Woking which offers IT services and solutions to businesses, said ‘yes,’ and started their journey toward a four day working week in May 2022.
Pro Drive is a relatively small SME with 16 employees, with values which aim to prioritise workplace wellbeing and work/life balance for their staff. After the world’s largest-ever trial of a four-day working week in Iceland was judged an “overwhelming success” (results found productivity and wellbeing improved for workers who took part), the senior leadership team at Pro Drive wanted to see if this was feasible in their own business.
Pro Drive’s pre-implementation research included analysing the business models of other successful companies offering a flexible working week and discussing it with their stakeholders. They analysed all the data on tickets and incoming phone calls and found that there was a massive drop off on most afternoons but especially Fridays, and particularly Friday afternoons. That’s why they decided to start by trialling giving the team every other Friday afternoon off, beginning in May 2022. The number of contracted hours for full-time staff were reduced, and part-time staff were offered additional holiday hours and/or salary increase to ensure fairness.
This first stage lasted three months, during which they tracked a wide number of metrics including staff engagement, productivity, wellbeing and customer satisfaction. Then from August they moved to further reduce contractual hours to a four day alternate week, with staff either having Monday or Friday off every other week (working 9 out of 10 days).
What did they see?
Across the board, there was a positive change on all metrics. Employee engagement increased from 8.35 in the six months before the first stage to 8.68 since, client satisfaction (NPS) went from 74 to 80 and staff utilisation went from 70% to 86%. Crucially, they have not experienced any dissatisfaction from clients, nor has business output gone down. It has also helped with recruitment for the company, standing out as a good place to work for prospective applicants.
Anecdotally, since May their team has been more refreshed and proactive from having this additional time away from work. Staff are motivated to work smarter and make more efficient use of their time – cancelling unnecessary meetings, for example.
When asked what their clients think about it, Operations Director Chris Morrell said:
“We are ‘on call’ and ‘on contract’! So, while we are flexible, we’re realistic. It was incredibly important that this change didn’t affect the service we deliver to our clients. The ideal is that nobody outside Pro Drive ever really notices the change at all. We will continue to support our clients as per our contracts and we have found that the arrangement does not affect the speed of our response to them. Our Net Promoter Score from feedback from our client, averages over 75, consistently above average (44) for our sector, which we’re chuffed about but always want to improve.”
Burnout and stress are very real issues in the workplace; in 2021/22 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. Pro Drive’s initiative aims to address this. Hearing what people have done with this additional time off is one of the most rewarding aspects for Chris, whether that is employees spending more time with their families or doing things they enjoy.
Although administration of the project has taken time to work through and develop a suitable plan for, they did not have any major roadblocks in implementation. All staff were in support of the initiative, and a key element to their success was that they had senior leadership buy in from the start.
Finally, a shorter working week also helps with the rapidly rising cost of living. Research shows that a parent with two children transitioning to a four-day work week with no loss of pay would save roughly £269 per month across commuting and childcare costs.
Chris’s top suggestions for other businesses looking to explore the possibility of a 4- or 4.5-day work weeks are:
- Start with a trial, and be sure to measure impact before and after
- Know your business well, so you choose the right time to cut down on hours during the week
- Be open, honest, and transparent with staff
- Make sure the initiative is fair to all staff, ensuring that everyone benefits not just those who are full-time
A big thank you to Pro Drive IT for their ongoing support of Oakleaf and mental health. Pro Drive are members of Oakleaf’s Mental Health Leaders Network, and have taken part in our Mental Health First Aid training.