The Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire had launched a trial of its new ‘way of working’ in April this year and are set to further assess its effectiveness for the next six months.
OxLEP has announced that it will be extending its current four-day working week trial through to the end of March next year, allowing the organisation to gain a further understanding as to how effective the arrangement is for staff and its stakeholders.
Earlier this year, OxLEP announced that it would be signing-up to the pilot scheme for an initial six months, originally through to 30 September this year – however, given that many of OxLEP’s operational activity peaks during the autumn and winter months, a decision has been made to extend the trial period for a further six months, so a greater assessment can take place.
Directly-employed OxLEP staff working on a full-time basis will continue to work a 30-hour week across four days, with the organisation operating between Monday and Thursday.
Its part-time staff will carry on operating on a pro-rata basis and there will be no reduction in pay for any OxLEP member of staff.
OxLEP will continue to receive support and guidance from 4Day Week Global – a not-for-profit organisation that aims to encourage businesses, employees, researchers and governments around the world to better understand the benefits of a four-day working week.
The continuation of the pilot scheme also builds upon the successful implementation of a home-based digital working platform for OxLEP staff, which became active shortly following the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
The organisation will continue to retain its operational hub location at Harwell Campus in the south of the county.
OxLEP’s move to a four-day working week is driven by the company’s desire to be a stand-out ‘employer of choice’ in Oxfordshire and, in doing so, also improve its staff retention, recruitment capabilities and maintain its efficiency too.
The organisation believes that by embracing a four-day working week trial for a further six months, it will also firmly place the wellbeing of its workforce at the ‘front and centre’ of everything they do.
When the pilot scheme was originally announced at the start of the year, OxLEP said it did not represent its teams delivering more work in less time, but aimed to create a cultural shift, maintaining operational efficiency whilst working smarter.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “Having embraced the four-day working week for close to half a year, our early assessment is that this approach is supporting improved wellbeing of our staff and a stronger work-life balance, resulting in a healthy, motivated and productive workforce better able to respond to the challenges of a post-pandemic environment.”
The past 12 months has seen a significant number of businesses embracing a four-day working week. Last June, 70 UK companies – representing around 3,300 workers – took part in pilot programme being led by 4 Day Week UK Campaign in partnership with the think tank, Autonomy.
This summer, OxLEP also released a podcast as part of its ‘OxTalks’ series highlighting the four-day working week trial. OxTalks host Howard Bentham was joined by Abena Fairweather – the founder and MD of Legacy – an award-winning, sustainable events agency that has been operating with a four-day week since 2018.
OxLEP’s Sadie Patamia also featured in this episode, discussing the company’s own transition to a four-day working week trial period.
WATCH: OxTalks – series one, episode six: 'The changing face of the workplace'.
OxLEP says it remains keen to embrace new and innovative ways of working, with the four-day working week pilot scheme very much an extension of this thinking.
Nigel Tipple added: “Throughout this trial to-date, we have regularly engaged with staff and assessed the effectiveness of this approach to work.
“We will continue to do so and – by reviewing a full year of activity – we will be a strong position to understand its future viability long-term.”