Envato embraces nine-day fortnights in the lead up to Christmas

Hichame-Assi-Envato-CEO

New Envato chief executive Hichame Assi. Source: supplied.

Leaders must never take the people who work in their companies for granted and they should be exploring “any and all opportunities” to help team members prioritise their wellbeing, according to Envato chief executive Hichame Assi. 

Assi’s comments come as Envato joins a growing number of Australian businesses offering staff additional leave and ‘tools down days’ in response to strain the pandemic continues to place on employees and employers alike. 

Envato will soon move all of its more than 600 global employees to a nine-day working fortnight for the remainder of the year, as part of a suite of new flexible work arrangements called #YourWayIsOurWay, which are designed to support its team at the end of another challenging year. 

Announcing the new policies in a blog post on Monday, Assi said the company wanted to do more “to have a responsive, globally-recognised benefits program, in a way that highlights to our people that we have their back during what has been an incredibly stressful time for many”.

Assi told SmartCompany all Envato employees will continue to receive their full pay entitlements even though they will be working one day less each fortnight, and the extra days off each fortnight are in addition to their existing leave entitlements. 

Employees who work part-time will also be paid for the additional day or allowed to take an additional day of leave per fortnight, and contractors will be able to invoice the company for the extra days. 

The policy applies to Envato’s team members working across Australia, as well as global staff and contractors, including those in New Zealand, Mexico and the US.

The startup is also providing team members with lump sum payments to cover costs of setting up and maintaining their home offices, ongoing monthly payments for internet and home-office related utility costs, and extra social budgets for teams and individuals. 

Assi, who took over as CEO from co-founder Collis Ta’eed towards the end of 2020, says it has been “pleasing” to see a growing number of companies acknowledging the challenges and issues faced by employees throughout the pandemic. 

“We should never be taking our people for granted, so exploring any and all opportunities to help enable them to work their own way and put their wellbeing first is something we should absolutely encourage, especially in tech,” he says. 

Envato has allowed team members to work from anywhere even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and has consistently been named among Australia’s best workplaces, despite a number of former employees raising concerns about how working mothers were treated in 2019. 

A recent review of the company’s benefits program has also seen it partner with The Resilience Project, which offers a school holiday program for parents and carers, and give staff an extra two days of leave as part of its annual birthday celebrations. 

The company currently has just under 300 Australian employees and Assi says the overwhelming majority are based in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, which means the ongoing lockdowns in Victoria and NSW have been “a prominent feature of daily work life for many of our people”.

One of Envato’s values is “tell it like it is” and Assi says this has led to “many frank conversations, from our leaders down, about how difficult this year has been”. 

Such discussions have created an environment where Envato staff can speak openly, says Assi, and in turn, allows the CEO and his leadership team to respond with policies they hope will allow employees to “get back to what matters most between now and the end of 2021”. 

“We appreciate it’s been a long and at times challenging year, and both the board and our senior leadership team, as well as our global people team, were very keen to provide these measures as a degree of immediate relief to our entire global staff and contractor community,” he says. 

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