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Podcast Length Icon 29:32 17 Oct 2019

Is the 30-hour-workweek economic nonsense?

In this captivating episode, we are chatting with new-work-pioneer Klaus Hochreiter, CEO and Co-founder of eMagnetix, about their 30-hour-workweek initiative, introduced in October 2018 in Austria.

How to make such arrangements work in real life? Why Klaus is not in favour of teleworking? Listen in as we discuss the nuts and bolts of the 30-hour-workweek revolution.

What follows here are snippets from our conversation with Klaus - edited for length and clarity - make sure you listen to the entire conversation for great insight!

Agnes Uhereczky: Today, I have a special guest joining me from Austria, Klaus Hochreiter.

Klaus Hochreiter: Hello Agnes, thanks for the invitation.

Agnes Uhereczky: Thank you for accepting the invitation. We met with Klaus at an event in Brussels, organised by Eurofound, the European Agency for Living and Working Conditions. The event focused on how to take work-life balance to the next level where Klaus was one of the panellists. As a short introduction Klaus, you are the owner and co-founder of eMagnetix, which is an online marketing company, that was set up in 2008. eMagnetix has 25 employees in 3 different locations in Austria. What brought media attention to your company and management style - for instance, in a newspaper in Salzburg you were called the best boss in the world - is that you have introduced a new working time model, which we will be discussing in this podcast. Before we go to that, may I ask you Klaus to tell listeners about yourself, your career and what gets you up in the morning.

Klaus Hochreiter: Thank you for this introduction. eMagnetix was founded in 2008. It is an online marketing company. So, our goal is to bring visitors or customers to the websites of our clients. What gets me up in the morning? Well, this is a good question and not just only for me but for our employees as well. We have recently changed our philosophy and job conditions.

Our mission or vision is to offer the best job conditions in the market for our employees.

The main change was introduced in our time model which we reduced in two steps. First, our working hours per week, from nearly 40 hours per week to 35. In the second step, this number was reduced to 30 hours per week. Very importantly we provided the same salary to our employees which is unique in Austria. In fact, I only know a couple of other similar examples that exist in Europe. This is one thing that wakes me up in the morning. Our main mission is to offer the best job conditions.

Agnes Uhereczky: How the reengineering of the working time in eMagnetix happened?

Klaus Hochreiter: Let me just give you a couple of examples in terms of what is happening now at our company. At the launch of these initiatives, we have had the fear of losing clients or the loss of profit. What we did is we tried to focus more on the potential positive outcomes of our reengineering process and not on the negatives. What was the impact? We have lots of interest from people who would like to work at eMagnetix, so we don’t face any talent recruitment issues which are very important for us. For example, about two years ago we had about 10 applications per job offer and now we are getting about 100 in one month. Most of them are very high-quality candidates. In the last month, we recruited 10 new employees, and for most of them, the reduced working hours were the most decisive factor to apply for these positions at our company. These employees have a high profile. They introduced new products or units, for example. Thanks to this we were able to offer higher quality to our clients. In terms of the monetary aspect of the new working model, in 2018, we will have an increase in our sales by about nearly 40 percent, which is unbelievable. This is thanks to our employment situation, that we possess enough talent, and have a constant flow of high-quality talent wanting to join our business. We have the best people in the market!

Agnes Uhereczky: Do clients get also attracted by this new management philosophy?

Klaus Hochreiter: Yes, of course. When our clients understand that when we get the best employees in the market, they recognize that this is going to be a win situation for them as well. This is something our clients understand. I have to underscore that we haven’t lost any single client as a reason for the new working model. We also reduced the availability of our office hours that end at 2 in the afternoon. A decision which we were afraid of at the beginning as we were not sure how our clients will react to it. But, now, nearly one year after the change of our telephone hours I can say that nothing was impacted by this.

Agnes Uhereczky: Coming to the last question of the podcast, which is always the same here, if I could ask you, Klaus, to give one advice based on your experience to other senior leaders about your take on work-life balance, what would be your advice to them?

Klaus Hochreiter: Nobody should fear to try something new. It is equally important that when someone - for instance one of our employees - is trying something very new we focus on the positive aspect and not on the negative. Richard Branson once said - which I consider being the best advice one can give to a manager - that “if you take care of your employees they will take care of your clients”. This advice is especially valid when we talk about the younger generations.