We interview Javier Ramos, GoldenRace's HR Manager, about the challenges of the pandemic and the corporate decision to start a 4-day working week for its teams.
Initially it was a real challenge for us to establish an environment where everyone could work safely and securely from home. However, we are happy to say that we have thrived thanks to the talent and effort of our managers and teams - especially our IT Systems team, who made a huge effort to get the IT infrastructure ready to work remotely in a very short time.
This year has continued to be challenging for companies and the whole industry, with COVID-19 refusing to relent and forcing us to once more stand up and face what is thrown at us. But GoldenRace has been able to succeed, even continuing to grow in size, hiring more than 40 new employees during the pandemic and increasing its GGR in the online area.
On the one hand, the need to properly organise teams, workflows and the effective allocation of tasks, with very clear information and enabling spaces that make communication flow. This is something we have had to learn as we go and we are still learning.
And on the other hand, the most important thing I’ve learnt has been managing the human factor from a distance: the need for abundant internal communication, to be especially accessible and to try to give the team certainty and confidence in the present and in the future. Also, the maturity and professionalism of our team in terms of demonstrating trust at all times, where they have not lowered the bar in terms of their performance, makes us even more productive.
Our COO had already brought the idea to the table in November 2019 as he always wants the company to be followed, not to follow. He showed me the research he had done, and we started to draft how we could implement something like that - what would be needed, what the costs would be, and so on.
When the lockdown came we had to leave this project aside, but as the pandemic subsided, in spring 2021 we began thinking about the future organisation again. The pandemic accelerated the momentum of several employment trends all over the world, and we believed it was the right moment to make a significant change.
Some international research confirms that it is possible to improve both productivity and work-life balance by having a 4-day working week. GoldenRace is particularly interested in the benefits in terms of operational efficiency: a more motivated and satisfied workforce, and an overall improvement in worker and company health and wellness.
To prepare for this process we also had several conversations with the pioneer company of the 4-day working week in Andalusia and one of the pioneers in Spain, Software del Sol, who helped us to understand the model and the aspects to take into account.
Non-client facing teams (development, product design, administration, etc.) will normally work Monday to Thursday. Client facing teams, such as support, IT or operations, will continue to offer a permanent service, but will be organised so that each employee has a 4-day working week. One exception is the team of account managers, with whom it was agreed that they will work 5 days a week, as they personally manage their clients.
The working day consists of 9 hours. What we are asking the team to do is to work 36 hours a week, and the other 4 hours they can spend on whatever they want. For example, we are proposing different voluntary training sessions on specific topics on Fridays.
Another very important aspect is that when we proposed this change in the way of working, one of the premises was that this was done without lowering salaries.
Yes, we had already predicted this, especially in the client-facing teams. The pilot test we did beforehand confirmed this, so before implementing this model we were already expanding staff in those teams.
It is important to point out that for GoldenRace the bet was clear, and it was not going to depend on this factor. It is something that the company always counted on from the beginning. The ultimate goal is still to make this company a great place to work.
Alongside the implementation of the 4-day working week, we have returned to the office with a Fully Flexible Hybrid system. Each full team comes to the office one day a week, which is important to strengthen key human aspects such as maintaining workplace culture, bonding within teams, speeding up problem solving or making sprint planning more fluid, for example. Our entry and exit times are flexible, and we keep a common time slot in which we try to limit the number and length of meetings to increase productivity. On the other three days, team members can work from wherever they want.
Partly, yes. But that would only be the tip of the iceberg. I really believe that this type of award is more about a long trajectory that becomes more visible in a specific year. And in that respect, GoldenRace is an example to follow consistently over time for a number of reasons - the constant growth throughout its existence and the stability of employment, the company's care for the team, the commitment to a healthy working environment, the possibilities for professional growth and the fact that we remain permanently competitive.
Of course, we are very happy about the nomination, but for us, the best award is the commitment of all GoldenRace professionals to the success of the company and the way they give the best of themselves on a daily basis.