One way to get New Zealand working and playing more

Here is an innovative solution to offering your employees more flexibility. 

When we first heard about the four-day work week, BioGro thought we could do something fairer [too] and so our board and management came up with a new idea. The Time Warp. We started a quiet revolution two years ago, by giving employees what we call a time bonus or a time warp (or time wrap as some call it, it has all kinds of names). 

Everyone who has worked at the company for two years, qualifies to be considered for a time warp bonus. 

So, what is a time warp? A team member’s usual 40-hour work week warps to a 38-hour work week with the same pay.

Two years of employment is two hours of earned time warp per week. This rolls out per year until you reach five years of employment, where it peaks at five hours of earned time warp.

This allows everyone to be compensated equally based on how long they have worked at BioGro New Zealand. 

To use it they don’t need to request permission, we only ask they let the rest of us know when they will be taking it. If you want to leave early on Friday and come in late on Monday, no worries. 

For people who have been with the company longer than five years, on top of the time wrap they also earn an extra two days of paid leave every year from then on.

So, if you have worked for BioGro for eight years, you would work a 35-hour week, be paid for 40, and be entitled to 30 days of paid leave. That’s quite a few trout fishing excursions you could manage with that kind of time.

Why two years? Employees become more efficient at doing their work, and in our business, with the qualifications we earn from the Ministry for Primary Industries, it really does take two years to become truly efficient. 

Why not share that with the employee? Because they have learned their craft let’s recognise that with time. We felt that was an equitable solution to the idea behind the four-day work week.

On top of that we have created systems that allow all employees to work from home if they have reliable internet. 

All employees have a company mobile phone signed up to a business network which allows us to have our landline numbers on our mobiles and transfer calls, just like a desk phone.

 We have people on our team in Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Kapiti, Whangarei, Taranaki, Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and Paeroa.

During the Covid-19 lockdown BioGro was able to put our phone system and Microsoft 365 tools to good use.

Suddenly tools that we hadn’t used before like Teams, became all important and a great way to keep in touch and keep going. Daily team meetings via Teams help, but there is definitely a place for face-to-face interaction.

Our customers are mainly in the primary sector or food business, and to ensure we met Alert Level restrictions we were conducting off-site audits under MPI supervision to ensure that audits continued, and that trade continued. 

We had regular Skype calls with MPI to activate all the New Zealand based verifiers. Auditors were using everything from Teams to Skype to WhatsApp to do video audits with customers.

It was an impressive effort all around with everyone pitching in to help our essential services keep on with the new rules we needed to work within.

I think that a four-day work week puts a lot of pressure on business to make ends meet if their teams are new, but it is something to aspire to implement. 

The idea that people be given time to travel and spend with family enjoying this beautiful country is fantastic. 

Let’s do it with remote work from Martinborough or Queenstown or Levin. And let’s do the time warp again.  

Donald Nordeng is the CEO at BioGro New Zealand. 

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