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Bishop Auckland company to trial 4-day working week

When the sales staff and cycle mechanics at Bishop Auckland’s only independent bicycle shop were asked how they would like to celebrate winning the award for best bike shop in the UK, their answer was ‘ride our bikes more!’

Inspiral Cycles, established in 2014 by Fiona and Gary Ewing, has gained an excellent reputation for offering expert advice, high quality cycle repairs and servicing plus selling a wide range of new bicycles, including electric bikes, perfect for the hills of County Durham.

Over the past five years, the Newgate Street shop has quadrupled in size to keep up with demand and Inspiral Cycles now employs 8 staff, some part time.  As current holders of the bike industry’s prestigious UK award: BikeBiz Independent Bike Dealer of the Year, the team were very proud they won as a result of their own customers’ votes and want to ensure the shop continues to flourish.

Inspired by the results of a 2022 pilot project of more than 60 UK companies, the high street bike shop is going to trial closing on Mondays from October to allow their staff to have an extra day off, reducing their overall working hours for the same pay, but keeping the shop open 5 days a week.

Gary Ewing, director of Inspiral Cycles, said, “The pilot project showed companies who offered the same pay for working reduced hours in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity improved staff motivation.  We already have good retention and are very aware of our staff wellbeing as all our team members, including Fiona and me, have worked in previous jobs where a lack of flexibility can lead to poor productivity.  Our team work really well together and we want to evaluate if this new working pattern will see our employees coming to work feeling refreshed and even more motivated to work smarter.”

The UK trial was run by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign and researchers from the University of Cambridge and Boston College.  It found the majority of employers who took part in the project report they’ve seen productivity levels maintained, and improvements in staff retention and well-being.  Business revenue stayed broadly the same and there was a 65% reduction in the number of sick days and 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout.

Gary acknowledged some of the additional challenges for retail, “We have a rota to cover Saturdays in the shop, which is often our busiest day, so not everyone will be having a three-day weekend, and this also gives me more time on a Monday to work on the business rather than just in the shop.  We have always offered flexible working hours to staff so they can start and end work earlier or later if needed so the next few months will be an experiment to see if having an extra day off in the week helps with not only wellbeing but also allowing time to do those other ‘life admin’ jobs or fulfil other caring roles or responsibilities.  Or just ride our bikes more, as that helps all of us foster more positive mental health and fitness”.

Inspiral Cycles shop and workshop will continue to be open 43 hours a week from Tuesday to Saturday, including until 7pm on Thursdays, at 137 Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland.

Their web shop is open online every day – www.inspiralcycles.co.uk.

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