Nine day fortnights here to stay at our MSP
Back in August we blogged about our nine day fortnight trial programme, why we were running it, the results we were expecting, and some of the challenges we anticipated.
To recap, we were looking at ways to keep our team fresh, reward hard work with better work/life balance opportunities, and give everyone a long weekend each fortnight at full pay without having to make up hours. Achieving this in a highly interactive customer service & technically complex business with a team of 15 required some creative thinking, buy in from the team, and a leap of faith.
The challenges we were facing earlier in the year, prior to commencing the trial, included:
- Mental overwhelm and lack of focus
- Burnout, stress, fatigue
- Diminishing engagement
- Weekends ruined because of a hectic week
- Some suss decisions & poor judgement as a result of above
The requirement from the team was to push hard for the nine days they were working during the fortnight, take greater ownership of the tasks they had, and “get shit done”. On the 10th day of the fortnight, which we termed the “Gifted Day Off” (“GDO”), the team was asked to do whatever possible to not leave someone else to pick up their mess, and to not feel guilty about not being in the office helping out.
During the trial …
We kicked off the trial early August and it wrapped up twelve weeks later in late October. We went back to a regular 10 day fortnight for two weeks while assessing the data and feedback from the team, without a doubt that felt like the longest fortnight ever. UGH!
Each month we measured our results. August was our biggest month with regards to team productivity since Q1 2022 – and this was in midst of everyone starting to navigate the nine day fortnight routine. September and October were what we’d call average months; nothing amazing, but nothing to complain about either. Pretty solid.
We hit some snags surrounding internal communications and technical job scheduling, and a few issues where some skills gaps were evident. On only one occasion we needed to change one team members GDO to another day, one Friday a few of the team gave up their GDO to attend the SMBiT Professionals conference at the Gold Coast, and one day where we were battling some sick leave, three team members made themselves available to cover for the rest of the team if we needed them (in the end, we didn’t).
Metrics, measurement, and feedback
The key metrics we were measuring all returned favourable results, or results that weren’t really different than before the trial. Productivity was still pretty good, ticket backlog pretty good, and for the most part, we achieved what we needed to without much delay.
Other metrics were about team feedback, who gave subjective assessment on what they noticed throughout the trial period. What we really wanted to see was an improvement in everyones wellbeing, mental health, work/life balance, and more time for living.
Some of the comments from the team include:
- “There appears to be a more relaxed attitude regarding communications between teammates as well as an overall better mood”
- “Noticed more organisation and preparedness with teams, ensuring no work is left in limbo and instead being correctly passed onto another person for actioning, if required”
- “It’s been helpful to free up time for “life admin” tasks, allowing me to better relax on the weekends instead of dealing with housework etc. That has resulted in less stress at work and a clearer head.”
- “The 9 day fortnight program has really helped improve work-life balance, and I’ve noticed a massive shift in mood amongst the rest of the team. I’m really glad we’ve been able to make this work, both at a company and individual level.”
- “Have observed an increase in enthusiasm to get things done efficiently and finished off.”
- “Social interaction has increased, people are chatting about their upcoming GDO’s and sharing excitement with what folks have planned to do”
- “I’ve noticed a strong mental health increase, less burnout and more overall general happiness. Allows me to book camping trips or other short holidays that greatly effect mental health that would sometimes not be available on a typical weekend.”
- “Huge increase to energy, focus and productivity, decrease in exhaustion.”
We asked the team a question: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being a “great reduction”, do you feel that any stress, mental fatigue, overwhelm, or exhaustion has been reduced by participating in the GDO trial?
84% of the team scored this a 4 or above, with the average score being 4.16 out of 5.
With such great results our nine day fortnight was given the tick of approval in November, and will be a permanent fixture in our organisation.
For a while we’ve known that everyone works differently, and at their peak productivity at different times of the day; and the nine day fortnight programme is no different. Some team adapted to the changes faster than others, and some team need mentoring about detaching from work more thoroughly on their day off, or help with time management to work on the impactful tasks. It’s a substantial change to the traditional ten day fortnight that we’ve grown accustomed to for many decades, and takes a bit of getting used to.
Meanwhile, we’ll continue to get better at it, enjoy it, and push hard to support our team so they can live better lives.
Cheers — Steve Edwards, Managing Director
Wow, sign me up already, I NEED this
We’re always on the look out for people keen to work with us, and if the nine day fortnight programme has struck a chord with you, check out our Careers page; we may have a role available for you!