You may have heard the story of Perpetual Guardian recently - The wills, estates and trusts business began a six-week experiment in March by moving from five-day working weeks to four-day weeks. And it paid off.
Sounds glorious doesn't it?!
With the story of their success everywhere, it was hard not to think about working conditions and the environment we've created at Showcase. Honestly, "the norms" for workplaces - a mix of the norms for corporate offices and the norms for a software startup - have largely influenced Showcase without taking much time to reflect on what might be the best or most productive conditions we could create.
If you're not familiar with the Perpetual Guardian story, the key takeaway from the experiment was that by increasing the number of hours that staff have for personal matters, they could be more present during office hours and therefore more productive. In addition, the leadership team saw the move as a great talent attraction and retention tool which I'm absolutely sure it is.
It’s fair then to assume that there was a productivity issue to solve with a move like this, which Showcase doesn't have a major problem with, but it's not like we're #killingit every single week either.
At the same time and separately on a personal note, health has become an important value to me over the last 18 months. From someone who basically had zero interest in exercise for 35 years (I used to proudly say things like "I don't like to sweat") I've morphed into someone who exercises in some form or other almost every day, hikes scenic national parks and who genuinely enjoys both the practice and the results of fitness.
The physical results were the reason I started exercising which is true for a large majority of people, but what's become more important to me now is the impact it has on my energy levels, mental clarity and productivity. All WAY up.
I want the same thing for people who are important to me - like my team - so now I've become one of those annoying people who will corner you at parties to tell you about their new found enlightenment.
When you work in an office (or even if you don't), it can be hard to actually fit a workout in during the week. It's easy to put it off in the morning in favour of getting on top of work priorities, if the weather sucks and you just don't wont to battle through it, or if you find yourself a bit worn out by the end of the day.
So if I believe that working out increases my own productivity and could do the same for others, it makes sense that I'd give my team every chance to experience the same. That I specifically support and encourage it and even go as far as putting my cash-money where my mouth is.
So we're introducing the "Showcase Wellshop Policy". (Showcase Sweatshop and Showcase Worksout were strong contenders for this punny policy name).
We're allowing our employees flexibility in their workdays so that they are able to better fit in health and wellness, without sacrificing their own personal time.
The policy allows staff to get exercise in during paid work hours so it can be prioritised in the part of the day that they most enjoy or are most likely to exercise in, and provide them with gym access if they so need it.
We'd like to give a shout out to the wonderful gym we're partnering with for this experiment, HealthFit Collective - we'd highly recommend checking them out for all your various wellness needs!
Over the next 3 months we'll be watching to see what kind of impact it can have on our work, productivity and our happiness at the office.
Now, while I'm a gym evangelist - my staff can freely choose what kind of exercise they'd like to do, and how often. They don't even have to do any if they aren't about that life, it's just about having the freedom to prioritise health & fitness and hopefully feel better at work.
Stay tuned and check back in in 3 months to hear about how we went, if productivity actually improved, and what our staff thought about it all.