Engendering STEM

In 2018 Kilpatrick Blane were contacted by Engendering STEM via Equate Scotland who heard we had a different approach to life work balance in our female led construction sector business.

Their remit was to assess what could be done to support SMEs in building an inclusive workforce so they benefit from the increased profitability, productivity and innovation that comes from increasing the representation of women in the industry.

Our Sarah Usher was invited to present on our flexible approach to work in construction at the 2018 Engendering Stem conference in Amsterdam. We met with many other advocates of women in STEM roles and even managed a little sightseeing while we were there.

KBS is aware that the construction working environment and culture does not naturally lend itself to those who prefer to work less than full time or need some flexibility in their hours. Our business, from inception, was run from Jillian’s dining room, so she was able to be present for her young family. It was primarily a business built to enable a mother to be there for her children, contribute financially to the household and make a positive impact on the world. It was an inherently flexible workplace. As the workforce grew it was clear that each team member needed a degree of flexibility to ensure they could balance their work with their responsibilities at home. Jillian found this naturally led to greater commitment, productivity and buy in from employees than she had seen in other workplace.

The Engendering Stem project selected several SMEs across the Basque region, The Netherlands and Scotland to compile a best practice guide. You can read our included case study below:

Kilpatrick Blane Services is a small Scottish company with 10 employees which focuses on the design, supply, installation, service & repair of smoke and comfort ventilation systems.

The company recently introduced a flexible working policy. Due to the growth of the business, staff were working long hours. There was a flexible working system in place for staff with young children, but it was clear that all staff had areas of their lives they wanted to devote more time to. With happiness as a core business value, the company was keen to ensure that everyone had opportunities for work/life balance.

As part of the plan to offer flexible working and a balance to all employees, working hours on a Friday were reduced from 9am – 5pm to 9am- 2pm. Friday was designated “Mop-up day” and is an in-office day for all staff to ensure actions are completed from the current week and there is protected time to plan for the following week.

Staff appear happier and more engaged. Staff report increased control over their workload and although pressures still remain they feel more equipped to tackle this with dedicated time to plan and organise. They complete more work within expected timescales. Quality is up and with everyone in the office on a Friday there have been more opportunities to communicate and debrief the team. Longer term this is seen as an incentive to attract talent to their team, increasing diversity in all aspects; opening the door to those not fulfilling their potential in the world of work because of the complexity of their lives. They hope to influence other businesses, especially within the Construction Industry to adopt a working week model which considers balance, happiness and mental health for all its workers.

5 years on, our team works a maximum of 34.5 hours per week. We have a flexible culture involving;

● Flexible hours for our engineering team who like to start early and finish early to pick up their kids from school.
● We offer options for office staff to work out with 9-5 to bank hours for additional time off with positive working relationships afford flexibility throughout the team
● Home working removes the need for lengthy commutes, reduces our carbon footprint and adds valuable down time.

In our 2023 staff survey we asked “what do you like most about working at Kilpatrick Blane Services?”

Flexibility was the most popular answer.

If you are thinking about making some changes to the flexibility of your organisation or looking to work in a business like ours we highly recommend you speak with https://www.flexibilityworks.org/ who have been instrumental in guiding our journey to 25 years of balancing work with real life.

We’d love to work with you and add your building to our showcase.
Contact us now to discuss how we can help.