URBN Fitness Ltd

The 250th company to make a commitment to the Scottish Business Pledge, Tribe Yoga (URBN Fitness Ltd) is an Edinburgh-based health and wellness studio that opened in August 2015 and employs 8 people.

The company provides a range of class based exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and Barre. Tribe became an instant success in Edinburgh, breaking even in its first month of operation, selling out its first weeks classes prior to opening and generating £250,000 in turnover in its first 9 months of business.

Tribe attributes its success to providing fair and stable employment. Following engagement with the Innovating Works…improving work and workplaces initiative at the University of Strathclyde, the business founder decided to try fair and innovative work as a business model. He broke from the sector norm of only utilising self-employed teachers. Where Tribe’s teachers provide more than 5 classes per week at the studio, the instructors were given the option to move from self-employment to employee status and all chose to do so, making Tribe Yoga the only yoga studio in Scotland with more than 3 fully employed teachers. For teachers, the benefits include not just stable incomes and hours of work, but access to employee rights and to investment in training and development. All of Tribe Yoga’s employees are paid at the living wage or higher. In addition, teachers benefit from ongoing supportive work relationships. As one employee noted:

It's quite lonely being a yoga teacher... you move from studio to studio with little team or client contact beyond your teaching hours. At Tribe I know most of my clients by name and have developed amazing friendships with my colleagues. I'm far happier being at Tribe, and I know it shows in my classes.

This approach has generated many business benefits. Employees are engaged, motivated and team oriented. The teachers take on additional tasks between classes such as social media, events, marketing, reception work and sales efforts adding to and diversifying their skills. Additionally, it appears to have delivered benefits in terms of reduced sick leave and absenteeism. Most important, however, is a far stronger sense of ownership, where employees tackle client and operational challenges.

Other fair and innovative approaches absorbed from the Innovating Works…project impact on opportunity, fulfilment and respect at work. These include: a lattice style of team management rather than a hierarchy; employees designing and selecting their own uniforms; investment in certified training to upskill teachers; having a transparent approach to pay and profitability so that employees know how everyone is paid and how profitable the business is; free access to yoga classes at Tribe to support well-being and peer-to-peer learning; free attendance to yoga events in Scotland that Tribe is associated with; ‘mates rates’ providing lower cost yoga to friends; and weekly and monthly update meetings nicknamed as ‘family gatherings’.

Tribe Yoga is currently in early discussions to open a second facility in Edinburgh and a third in Glasgow before the end of 2016. The company is already Living Wage accredited. Tribe Yoga highlights the potential of fair and innovative work to generate individual and business success, as well as a high quality service to customers. At this business, doing the right thing simply required a decision to do the right thing. As the business founder notes, “there are no downsides”.