Newton Aycliffe-based manufacturing business, BTS Facades and Fabrications, has condensed its working hours in a step towards embracing the four-day working week.

BTS, which supplies facade and rainscreen products to clients across the country, has moved from a 40-hour working week to a 37-hour working week, without its employees’ pay being affected.

The new working agenda has taken six months to plan and enforce, after the topic was discussed at one of the firm’s committee meetings, where a handful of BTS’ team members made suggestions to improve employee satisfaction.

Michael Butterworth, project coordinator and committee member, said: “I think it’s great. It’s a sign that we are working for a progressive company which values and trusts its employees.

“It gives the whole team an opportunity to plan appointments without eating into working hours, and it’s ideal if you’d like to go away for the weekend as we’re able to leave early on the Friday.

“It’s just good for the work-life balance. The whole team are feeling really positive, and we can’t wait to see more flexibility in the future.”

The new contracted hours mean BTS’ office staff will now have the opportunity to leave at 1pm on Friday, due to the company’s flexible working policy, while the operational departments’ reduced hours will be factored in on a rota basis.

Nigel Freeman, BTS’ operations director and head of the committee has managed and enforced the reduced hours, and is responsible for evaluating the impact on productivity.

He said: “I’m committed to modernising our working practices to make sure the team have the best possible experience at BTS.

“If the new working pattern proves to be a success and not hinder the productivity of each team, and all targets are met, it will prove we can move towards an 8-day fortnight.

“We’re already working on productivity improvements for each department and are making steps to take out nonvalue added activity within the organisation using project management styles like the LEAN principles.”

Nigel was appointed in February to improve the company’s efficiency, and since joining, his team have been hitting target consistently.

Phil Atkinson, BTS’ managing director, says he wants to do what he can to make his company an attractive place to work, and wants existing staff to enjoy being there.

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after you,” he said.

I have a lot of faith that this new working pattern will see great success based on how hard my team works, along with studies about increased productivity in a shorter week.

“I would love to think that we’re leading the way for the North East in becoming a modern business that puts its staff first.”

The trial will be evaluated at the end of this year, and senior members of the team, including BTS’ committee, will decide how to move further towards the shorter working week.