Tech firm UKFast reduces working hours to energise workforce
Employees at hosting firm UKFast have officially had their hours reduced after a pilot scheme proved that doing so improved energy levels and the quality of service to customers.
The Manchester-based company cut working hours from 40 hours a week to 37.5 without reducing pay, effectively giving every employee an extra 3.5 weeks holiday.
The time bonus comes on top of a five per cent annual pay increase which has been in existence since the company started trading in 1999.
"On the face of it, it looks like it directly impacts our profitability considering we had to recruit a further 32 team-mates to cover the lost hours, but there is no substitute for a happy, motivated and energised workforce,” said entrepreneur and UKFast co-founder Lawrence Jones, who is known for designing quirky office spaces with slides, ponds and pool tables.
The move is part of the firm’s ongoing mission to become the best workplace in the UK, after it was named the top tech workplace by the Great Place to Work Institute.
Co-founders Lawrence and Gail Jones, right, at firm's UKFest event
“Reducing the working day is something I have wanted to do for years; it's a scary thought when you are small and that fear grows in direct proportion as you get bigger,” added Jones.
“We just had to bite the bullet and run the test. I am glad it worked as I wouldn't have been popular rolling back the scheme if it had not proved successful! I think they'd have lynched me!
“We simply did the maths and realised we’d need around 30 extra people to ensure we continue to deliver the same exemplary service.
“It’s a fair and sensible way to distribute the company's profits to ensure that teammates as well as shareholders benefit from UKFast's success.
“Ultimately, this is about giving back and saying thank you to our incredible team. We want to see people clocking off on time and having a proper work-life balance.
“People work a third of their lives, sleep a third, and hopefully get to spend a third with their loved ones.
“We have already invested in the most amazing office environment and we are seeing the benefits of this, it’s important we back this up with the best working practices too. Reducing the working day is a positive thing for everyone.
“I’m completely convinced that removing that half hour strengthens the team by giving them more quality time and rest.
“Productivity rose immediately on putting the measures into place. If this continues to work, which I fully expect it to, then there’s no reason we won’t cut hours further in the future.”
Customer satisfaction spiked during the period, with the firm registering a record in-month score of 86 during October, measured by the customer satisfaction metric Net Promoter Score (NPS), compared with 80 during the same period last year.
Gail Jones, co-founder and newly appointed managing director, said: "The biggest concern putting something like this in place is to ensure we continue to deliver excellence to our clients.
“So to see our NPS score increase whilst also seeing improvements in the speed of response to support queries from customers only fills us with confidence that we are doing the right thing."
UKFast is on track to achieve £46m turnover with EBITDA of £21m this year.
Lawrence Jones continued: “We’re only able to do this because we’re a profitable business that relies heavily on technology to simplify the mundane business processes that waste colleagues’ time.
“We are automating more and more, and ultimately wouldn't it be amazing if one day in the future UKFast colleagues, and other businesses with similar focus, only work a four-day week?
“This will happen in my lifetime.”