Becoming a B Corp and introducing a 4-day week
27 Jun 2023
27 Jun 2023
Recently our founders Simon, Julian and Jonathan had a conversation as part of an online seminar with the wonderful Hannah Cox, founder of betternotstop, Better Business Network and the Better Business Summit. As a sustainable impact leader, Hannah and the seminar attendees quizzed our founders about Tyler Grange’s journey to becoming a certified B Corp company in September 2022, and our adoption of a four-day week across the company.
We’ve been immensely proud of our achievements since we started back in 2010. Gaining B Corp certification helped us stay further rooted in the values we’ve held dear for over 13 years now, and the 4-day week has only strengthened that. Our Tribe are happier, more productive and our company is more profitable.
But not everything in our garden has always been so rosy. We wanted to share our experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. Read on for some snippets of our conversations with Hannah!
Simon: “It’s not really about a 4-day week. It’s about productivity. About finding the best, most productive way for your organisation to run. I think we’ve all seen huge changes in the way people work over the last number of years. And we’re pretty obsessed about how we can be better. We found a four-day week is more productive, we do about 106% of the work in four days that we used to do in five. And that’s because we are better at it, not because we are compressing hours.”
Jon: “We have a number of ways of doing it. We have our internal timesheet and a project system called Salesforce, which looks at how busy the team are, what projects they’re working on and how efficient they are on those projects. And then alongside that, we created our own fatigue app so we can measure our Tribe’s tiredness and happiness.”
Simon: “We’ve been talking about productivity since we started 13 years ago, the conversations around a four-day week started about four years ago. And from that moment onwards, we started working out how it might work, what data we needed to gather, what sort of ways we could improve the way we worked in order to allow it to happen.”
Jon: “You’ve got to take your team with you, you’ve got to take your clients with you, your collaborators and involve everybody in it, and acknowledge that not everything will go to plan!”
Julian: “One thing we were really nervous about before we embarked on it was that this could change Tyler Grange. We worked very hard from day one to define what our values were, and we’ve involved the team in that over the 13 years. Working a day less each week and put a lot of strain on the team, we knew it could change behaviours and we really didn’t want that. We worked hard to make sure that the way we’re working and the behaviours within business haven’t changed.”
Jon: “I think one of the team’s biggest fears was that it meant compressed hours. So you’re cramming that already busy five-day week into four days.”
Simon: “It is very hard. And it is very challenging. And it isn’t for everybody. Tyler Grange is not for everybody. It’s quite intense. You’ve got to love what you do because it’s hard.”
Jon: “You’ve also got to innovate your products, your outputs. Producing the reports that we did a decade ago just isn’t right now. Technology means we can elevate them, improve them, make them more efficient in the way they’re presented to our clients.”
Simon: “Productivity went down in the first month, by the way. June was the first full month of a four-day week. Our productivity dropped quite substantially. And it was terrifying. Because we thought, oh, no, we made a terrible mistake.
As an environmental business, we have seasonal peaks and troughs, there will be more pressure on the team during the busy survey season, and this [the four-day week] isn’t at the expense of our work, if something is going wrong on a Thursday, you can’t just walk away from it, you’ve got to fix it.”
Jon: “From the day we started, we wanted a business that was happy and collaborated and made a difference to the community we’re in. And as an environmental consultancy, we never wanted to be accused of greenwashing or not practising what we preach as a business. So, it led us to have the aspiration to move towards B Corp.”
Simon: “The point is – do you want to have a business that is meaningful and isn’t just about profit? Also, if you don’t get on board with this, you are going to become irrelevant. If you don’t become better as a business, you stop being relevant and you end up not being a business. So, this is not something that’s optional, in my opinion.”
Julian: “You’ve got to keep working at it. It’s about continuing to improve with the standards becoming more rigorous. So yeah, a cautionary note is: once you become B-Corp, there’s still work to be done.”
Simon: “We’re looking at things like being more transparent around salaries, it’s quite a big deal in our sector. I’m talking to an NHS Trust about a four-day week. I’m talking to a marketing company, a manufacturing company, there are loads. I think in terms of trends, I don’t know if it’ll be a four-day week across the whole country, I suspect it shouldn’t be. I would much rather each sector, each business looked at their own productivity and the sweet spot around which they can deliver their very best service.”
Jon: “I think the progression of business, from my perspective, will be that businesses go beyond what their day-to-day remit is. We’ve all got a responsibility – ethically, morally, environmentally, and socially – to do more than just turn up and do your job. I think people have got to recognise that it’s the only way we will change the planet.”
Julian: “I’d also add that some reflection on what worked for you is essential. The four-day week and BCorp; they’re just two examples. But they’re examples that mean our team are happier. I think as businesses, we all need to be thinking, what is the next thing? What would make our team happier?”
Julian: “On the four-day week, we do everything we can to make it work and it is working. I’d encourage everybody to think very hard about how they can make it work for their business.”
Jon: “I’d say to everyone: let’s continue to celebrate what we all do well and let’s share what isn’t so good. Share the lessons, so we can all learn from it.”
Simon: “And mine is straightforward: Why are you doing a five-day week? If you can’t answer that question, you need to go and work it out.”