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The company is taking a progressive view when it comes to their employees and it’s paying off.
Rail ticketing company Seatfrog have had a crazy few years, becoming big almost overnight before suffering hugely when the pandemic decimated train travel. Now they’re doing things differently in the workplace, by having a four-day work week alongside their other family-friendly policies. We spoke to co-founder Iain Griffin to find out more.
Seatfrog was born from a broken system. Five hundred and seventy million 1st class seats travel empty every year in Europe (that’s £23bn in lost upgrade revenue) but getting an upgrade is often confusing and expensive.
Setting up the business has been a hell of a journey. We grew rapidly after launch, named in the top 30 growth companies in the UK when corona was just a beer. Things changed rapidly in March 2020 – we lost 97% of revenue overnight and made some tough decisions. But every crisis is also an opportunity and we were able to win more clients, build some new game-changing features and ultimately bounce back stronger, exceeding pre-Covid revenue in weeks after the last lockdown.
With a four-day week, our team cadence is unbelievably high and staff happiness scores are brilliant. The team is raring to go on Monday mornings, there is even less time for perfection, so we’re building faster and smarter than ever and I’d take a bet that my team would deliver more than any other five-day week teams.
We believe it’s the right thing to do for our team. We trust our team to take Seatfrog to the next level, and that we can do that and have the balance. We didn’t reduce salaries, because we hire people to deliver their role, and we can do that in four days. Nursery and school drop-offs and pick-ups are all part of life as a working parent and we want our teams to be able to be there for these moments.
Incredibly well. Cadence is up, we’re making faster progress than ever and the team is balanced and happy, leading to great outputs in their four days a week. We’ve seen a 15-20% uplift in productivity.
Don’t just accept how things are done. It’s time to create a culture and environment where people love coming to work every day and do their best work.
We are a challenger brand, dragging a byzantine category into the 21st century, so one of the key traits of the people we hire is an insatiable curiosity and drive to not just accept how things are done. In the same way that we’re reinventing rail by putting the customer first in everything we do, we’re putting our employees first with our culture. When you look at things through that lens it’s an easy decision to make bold decisions.
The great thing about starting a company is that you can design the workplace you believe in and we still have a lot more we want to do.
Maternity and paternity: Our maternity and paternity policies are on par for primary carers and when they’re ready to return, we offer supported return to work and fund childcare/remote office environments during those first few months of getting into a rhythm of a working family life.
Electric vehicle leasing: Becoming a new parent can put added financial pressure and mean the need for a new car, so we offer the ability for any staff member to get huge savings, no matter their seniority, by putting a car lease through the company on any electric car. The savings are huge, up to 45%.
Public holiday swap: We let staff work public holidays if they want to, instead taking those days to travel and escape when it’s less expensive and busy. This is great for young families with kids not in school yet and saves serious £££.
Private health & dental for all: We give all our staff the best healthcare for them and their families.
We work entirely remotely: which seems obvious, but we’re keeping it, not moving to a hybrid approach. This not only means we can hire talent from anywhere in the world to work with us and scale quickly, but it also gives people with families the balance they need to help with drop-offs and pick-ups and all the things family life throws at you.
My wife and I have twins, a son and a daughter (baptism of fire!) and they’re nursery age. We had them during the early days of Seatfrog so it’s been a steep learning curve of getting the balance between building a company and wanting to be a brilliant father.
I work from home in Bath, mixing it up between a home office and a co-working space. I go to London maybe once a week max, the train is one hour and it’s a great journey, I’m in London by 8a.m. I try and see the team in person regularly and take the train often around the country to do that.
With the kids at nursery on Fridays, it’s a chance for my wife and I to have a day of feeling like we aren’t parents once a week. Lots of adventures, just the two of us, it’s something we value a huge amount.
I make a big effort to protect family time in my diary and block it out. Every morning I make time for the kids before they go to nursery and I’ll be around for bath time most days. I also train five days a week, a mix of before the day starts and mid-afternoon. I get a lot out of staying highly active and it’s a really important part of making sure I can operate at such a pace.