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About two years ago, I realised that I needed to make some changes in my life. Building a business can take a toll on your health and I was eating badly and hardly exercising.

I took on the challenge of losing 60lbs in six months. To keep myself focused, I created a JustGiving page to raise money, and pledged to donate £60 to Cancer Research for every pound lost. It was hugely motivating and I hit my target, raising more than £5,000 in total.

But now, I find myself sliding back into old habits. I’ve put on 1 stone since losing that weight last year. I need to set myself a new target and get back to healthy eating and exercise.

The fact that I’m back at square one and battling my weight again is hard to take. It got me thinking about wellness at work, and the changes that I would like to make to ensure everyone at BigChange feels good, and looks after their health.

I love using technology to solve problems so we have launched the BigChange Community app. The idea is to create a resource packed with useful features to help my team – and me – to stay happy and healthy.

There will be access to a GP’s advice 24/7; discounted gym membership (we contribute £20 per month to each employee); an online health checker and nutritional information. The app will also provide mental health support, featuring a helpline for emotional support.

This app will help my team to manage their health and mental wellbeing, and reduce stress. If they find it useful, then I would also like to recommend it to BigChange’s customers. Wellbeing at work is so important and many of the companies we work with employ sales people, drivers and engineers. These workers can really struggle, being out on the road for long hours.

The app will also have a business benefit. It has a first day absence service. If someone feels unwell and needs to take a day off, this would trigger a swift call back from the triage desk. They will run through the reasons for the absence and may refer them to an occupational health nurse. This would have the benefit of getting people who really should be in work back into work, prevent absenteeism, but also deliver important medical advice to those who are poorly.

I’m going back on MyFitnessPal. I’ll be bringing back my JustGiving page to raise some money for the British Heart Foundation. I am determined to keep the weight off this time.

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

Back in June of this year I announced that we were bringing in a 4.5-day week in anticipation of moving to a four-day week by 2021.

I’m really passionate about this idea. We live in a modern age powered by automation. We should all be working less, taking better care of our mental health and spending more time with friends and loved ones.

Lots of people told me I was crazy. I said that we would see an uptick in productivity and employee engagement, and no decrease in service. They told me it was likely to put more stress on managers, and that lots of people wouldn’t take the extra half-day.

It turns out: I was right. And you were also right.

Today I walked around the office and spoke to people across every department about our Flexi Friday initiative. I wanted to know if they were taking the half-day, what they were doing with it, and how the system could be improved.

Overall, it’s been a success. People across all teams say it’s a major bonus of working here. New recruits told me it was a factor in their choice to work at BigChange. They couldn’t wait to finish probation so that they could also benefit from the extra time off.

“It feels like I get a proper weekend now,” said our HR director, Sonal. “It’s a big advantage of working here,” Julie from credit control told me. “The extra time off is more valuable than money,” said Isaac, 23, who joined us straight from university.

My straw poll today really brought home the dedication of my team. Tom, who works in commercial, said: “It encourages me to keep on top of things during the week but, if there’s work to be done, I won’t always take it.”

Sonal is meeting with all the managers next week to get a full report but said anecdotally that Flexi Friday has been well-received and there have been no complaints so far.

But there are issues with the new system. I worried that some of the customer-facing teams would struggle to take half days every Friday. That has been the case. Instead they take a half-day at other times in the week but it’s not the same.

Not everyone is able to go flexi. My head of professional services said that he’s told all his friends about it and they’re jealous – but he’s yet to actually take an extra half-day because he has too much on.

BigChange is growing so fast that some teams have just enough people to handle the workload. They simply can’t spare anyone on a Friday. Managers are handling the extra work of allocating resource admirably but there’s no doubt the extra employees absences put pressure on them.

One thing is clear: we need to recruit a lot more people. We can’t expect managers and teams to wholeheartedly embrace Flexi Friday without extra hands on deck. That is now a priority for me: there needs to be cover for every role. That’s the only way to make 4.5 days truly workable.

We are coming towards the end of 2019 and hurtling towards the New Year. I don’t have long to iron out the kinks before we move to a four-day workweek. But we are making progress, and there has been no detrimental effect on service or delivery. Hats off to the team for making this bold idea a moderate – if not runaway – success. And thank you to all the doubters for keeping my feet on the ground. If you have any advice on getting over these last few hurdles, get in touch.

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

GAP Hire Solutions, the UK’s largest independent equipment hire company, has deployed a cloud-based mobile workforce management system from Leeds-based BigChange.

The system has boosted the efficiency of GAP’s operations by equipping field operatives with rugged tablets running a mobile app called JobWatch which includes black box vehicle tracking as part of the system.

The 5 in 1 BigChange solution allows completely paperless working, connecting to the GAP hiredesk in real-time to provide management and customer services with 24/7 visibility on deliveries and collections of equipment.

The benefits have made an immediate impact on GAP Survey & Safety and it’s expanding customer base. The specialist division hires out specialist equipment and instrumentation to surveyors and civil engineers. Operating from 15 locations across the UK and employing 60 people, the division is growing rapidly.

GAP holds stocks of the latest total stations, GPS satellite network rovers, lasers and other precision instrumentation, as well as other surveying kit. The specialist equipment is not only expensive, but it is also being continually enhanced as the technology evolves. As a result, the hiring of equipment is increasingly popular, especially amongst civil engineers involved in set up at construction and infrastructure sites.

Jim Burke, GAP’s Survey & Safety Division Manager, says:

“We invest in the very latest surveying equipment including costly instrumentation which is often supplied with a box full of accessories,”

“In the past we didn’t have a way to provide proof when making a claim for damage or any missing accessories.”

GAP uses BigChange to manage the whole operation with all hired equipment being accurately logged and tracked from the initial order, through the depot and workshop, to delivery and collection. The tablets are used to photograph equipment prior to despatch, on delivery and when collected with GPS location and time recorded automatically with each image. For added security drivers can also photograph at handover so there is a record of the person taking delivery.

Burke explains:

“BigChange has changed everything by providing indisputable evidence when equipment and accessories are returned damaged or incomplete. It’s put an end to the challenging conversations we used to have – the digitally held records remove any doubts. Customers are much happier now we can show them tangible evidence for the first time. BigChange has eliminated what used to be a major management headache,”

The 5 in 1 JobWatch app links to BigChange vehicle telematics fitted to GAP Survey’s fleet of vans. Company cars are also fitted with the trackers so anyone can collect or deliver equipment knowing that the system automatically records their activity. Drivers use their tablets in place of traditional hire paperwork with improved time and location stamped records plus additional photographs when required. The devices are also used for daily vehicle safety checks.

Apart from the paperless delivery and collection management application, BigChange is having a big impact on operational efficiency. All jobs are scheduled, routed and tracked using BigChange and this is improving resource utilisation and reducing unnecessary mileage. Hire controllers also have continual, real-time visibility of the fleet allowing deliveries and collections to be managed better and dynamically – optimising resource utilisation and allowing a more responsive service.

Burke comments:

“BigChange gives us the ultimate controllability over our operations,”

“The real impact of the system has yet to really be felt as it’s relatively early on but already it has boosted efficiency and is underpinning rapid year-on-year business growth. And the more accurate hire records have also certainly improved profitability and cash flow.”

Burke adds:

“GAP’s mission as a company is encapsulated in what we call the GAP CODE; Communication, One Team, Dedication and Efficiency. BigChange is all that so it fits in perfectly with the philosophy and aims of the business,”

GAP team uses BigChange tech

Mondays get a bad rep but here at BigChange they are everyone’s favourite day of the week.

That’s because of our regular “Motivational Monday” initiative. Once a month, we invite someone exceptional from the world of sport or business (or anywhere really, as long as they are inspiring) to come in and talk to the team, share their stories and give advice.

Last week, we had Sharron Davies MBE in the office. She represented Great Britain in the Olympics and won a silver medal for the nation. She told us about how arduous training was – getting up at 5am and eating just a single meal each day to stay lean – and how hard it was to survive as an athlete in the old days, before sponsorships deals and TV contracts. It was just fascinating to hear her story.

Last month, we had Mr Motivator, the legend from GMTV morning television. He revealed that he’d been homeless for a time but managed to turn his life around. Other noteworthy speakers have been: Kevin Keegan OBE, football star and manager; Gerald Ratner former CEO of jewellery chain Rateners; Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell, the model turned entrepreneur Caprice; the racing driver Nick Hamilton; John McCarthy, who was taken hostage while reporting the crisis in Lebanon; and Mike Newman, who broke the land speed record despite being blind, and has founded the charity Speed of Sight. These are just a handful of the incredible people that have come into the office and chatted to the team. These are small sessions. We can ask questions and have a coffee together – it’s really an amazing thing to do.

We set aside a significant budget to get these people to come in and talk to us but it’s money well spent. Not only do these stories inspire the existing team, it’s also one of the reasons we successfully hire so many great new people. These Monday Motivations also pick me up when I’m feeling tired out or low. I’ve learned something valuable from every single person that’s come and given a talk. Sometimes it’s just a reminder of the importance of tenacity. Other times, I get more practical help: Mr Motivator gave me a few tips on how to sit and stand that help my posture, and I follow that advice every day.

At BigChange, we want to change the perception of Mondays. That’s why we make it possible for people to meet their icons at Monday Motivation. It shouldn’t be a drag to go to work; it should be a joy.

What are you doing to make Mondays better for your people? Let me know in the comments below.

Martin Port
Founder & CEO



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