Introducing a new way of working, by Nell Fitzjohn at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
In late 2021, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision started to develop a concept that would later be named The Future of Work.
Early on we wondered if, by reducing our standard working hours to 32.5 hours and increasing flexibility, we’d be able to improve our people’s wellbeing, increase our capability, and still maintain our productivity.
After a people-centred design process, which included extensive co-design with our people and took about five months, we piloted this new way of working from June to December 2022. We are proud that from February 2023, The Future of Work will become our permanent way of working.
What is The Future of Work at Ngā Taonga?
The Future of Work is a highly flexible, shorter working week. Although we continue to operate as a business for all 40 hours per week, all our current and future employees have been offered 32.5 hours per week as their standard working hours. In addition to these reduced hours, we offer a high level of flexibility with several different working patterns to choose from. These include (but are not limited to) a 4-day week with Friday off, a 9-day fortnight with every other Friday off, and a 5-day week with shorter working hours each day.
When choosing a working pattern, all our people work with their manager to determine what pattern will work best for them and still enable them to meet their business and customer needs.
We continue to reiterate to our people that we are not asking them to do the same with less, but instead to work differently. We have supported this through a capability programme, with an investment of over 500 hours of professional development time across our workforce.
Why did we do this?
We are a values-based organisation where we respect all world views. Fostering a culture of belonging for all of our people is a central value and we acknowledged that the traditional 40-hour week may not adequately accommodate some of our current and future people’s needs. In order to attract great people from all different backgrounds and cultures we wanted to provide the right environment.
Our people also told us they wanted a better work life balance and to improve their wellbeing. Through our wellbeing surveys (provided by Umbrella Wellbeing), we found that our people had higher than average stressors related to caregiving and whānau obligations. We wanted to make a foundational change that would improve the wellbeing of our people and their experience at work.
Another consideration was supporting our people contributing to the wider GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) sector in their spare time as we are deeply committed to our position as a sector partner.
How did we achieve this new way of working?
We committed early on to a co-design process with our people. This began with us presenting a loose concept of a new way of working and asking them to co-design the detail with us. After they accepted, we moved into a three layered co-design process.
Layer 1: Organisation-wide forums. This is where we asked the big questions like, “How will we do meetings if we have less time?” and “What will people need from managers to support them to work differently?”
Layer 2: Team forums. These forums were designed to get teams to consider such things as, “How will we continue to meet our business process obligations?” and “How will we adapt our approaches to team building under a new way of working?”, and much more.
Layer 3: Individual discussions. This was the opportunity for people to discuss with their manager one on one about what type of working pattern might best suit them and their job.
We recognised that just saying to people that they needed to work differently would not be effective if they didn’t know how. We conducted a Training Needs Analysis and then rolled out an extensive programme of workshops covering topics that included Personal Prioritisation and Time Management, Meeting and Discussion Facilitation, and Business Writing. These were offered to all, and many reported that they helped enormously in creating new practices in their daily work.
As with any change, it was important to us that we met all of our obligations under the relevant legislation. This meant we had a few periods of consultation between phases of co-design. It was important for us to recognise the difference between these phases.
How did we evaluate our pilot?
We teamed up with Dr Amanda Wallis from Umbrella Wellbeing Ltd and Prof Jarrod Haar, PhD, FRSNZ, CFHRNZ from Auckland University of Technology to evaluate our pilot.
We collected survey data throughout the six-month pilot and also conducted a SWOT analysis with all our people part way through.
We evaluated our success against many factors including (but not limited to):
- Wellbeing factors
- Work factors such as meeting effectiveness and workload
- Organisation factors such as team cohesion and eNPS (Employer Net Promoter Score)
- Change and professional capability factors
- Flexibility and availability factors.
What did the evaluation tell us?
Our people reported a strong improvement in key areas of wellbeing under the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health – 30% on average.
Our people also reported being able to meet and sustain their normal workloads and business connections within the pilot.
Our eNPS, measuring employee satisfaction and engagement, increased by 50%.
Our people are much more confident with change when co-design is included.
Our people felt that they have the capability and support needed to embrace a new way of working.
How did the pilot evaluation guide our next steps?
For the pilot, we had provided almost limitless options for how people worked their shorter weeks. The key criteria was that they must meet business needs, particularly the needs of internal and external customers and stakeholders.
The evaluation showed that the high number of work patterns adopted – there were about 30 – placed some pressure on colleagues working to deliver project plans and key pieces of work as they had to plan for other team member’s days off in the middle of work weeks. For the pilot Friday was already the most preferred day off so, when implementing this permanently, we made Friday the only day people could choose to have as a full day off.
The evaluation also highlighted that our induction of new people needed to include how we worked differently to enable shorter working hours.