Health and wellbeing, improved work-life balance, and creating space and time to spend with family; in an increasingly busy world, all of these things become even more important and these are just some of the reasons why flexible working is becoming of increasing importance to people.
Recent research¹ suggests that more than half of UK workers feel that the most popular method of employment in the future will be flexible working. Over a third of those surveyed placed the ability to work flexibly ahead of a pay rise in terms of what they value most.
There is little doubt that the ability to work flexibly has changed the nature of work; technology has aided this by supporting remote working as well as a myriad of other “non-traditional” working patterns. Increasingly, work is a “thing you do”, and not just a “place you go”. This trend is reflected in our own business and in recent years we have certainly seen an increase in the number of employees working more flexibly at Cundall.
There is, however, no denying that there is still some stigma attached to flexible working. For both men and women there can be fears that a flexible work arrangement may have a negative effect on their career and/or promotion opportunities; that an individual not present in the office for long hours is seen as less committed or productive; or unable to manage a team effectively.
Our own Global Diversity and Inclusion Survey (carried out earlier this year) found that one in five of those who responded do not believe it is possible to achieve a successful career and a healthy work-life balance at Cundall.
We know we can do better. We spoke to a number of employees around the business to try to dispel some of the myths…….
Andrew Roscow, Principal Engineer, Manchester
What prompted your decision to work more flexibly? / Why are flexible work hours important to you?
Our son Arthur was born in December 2017 and working full time it was clear that I would only spend time with him at weekends. As a result, I had three months of shared parental leave in Summer 2018 and followed that by reducing to 4 days to create a better work life balance.
How did Cundall support you in making the change?
My manager was very supportive of my decision to take both shared leave and reducing to 4 days per week. They were in favour of my requests and have adjusted my workload to compensate for being in the office only Monday to Thursday.
What challenges have you encountered as a flexible worker? How have/do you overcome them?
- The industry isn’t geared up for people who work part time and so clients and projects have expectations of a 5 day service. This leads to a heavier daily workload when working 4 days rather than 5 to keep up with the project requirements.
- As a result, time is a commodity when in the office and my workload and commitments require a lot more planning than would normally be the case.
- Having good people around me is also important for managing queries, communication and urgent issues on Friday when I am not in the office, but also during the week to free up more time for other items requiring my attention.
- Initially managing workload and resource was a problem as both myself and my manager adapted to a 4 day week. This was a challenge at first, but now works well.
- Monday morning is always a catch up period reviewing emails received on Friday and any queries that arose. This puts more pressure on the weekly work planning, and it has taken time to adjust.
How do you communicate with your team? / How do you keep in touch with team and project developments?
I work with my team Monday to Thursday and will, if required, on Thursday afternoon review deliverables and items to complete for the following day. When discussing deliverables with clients I aim to avoid Friday issue dates and adjust to Thursday or Monday which hasn’t proved a problem yet.
How has flexible working benefited you in terms of the impact on your personal life?
I spend a full day with my son, going swimming every Friday afternoon which is great. My work life balance is far improved and as a result I enjoy my work more. I am also able to better enjoy my weekend as I don’t need to use Saturday to unwind from the week’s workload.
Do you think the ability to work flexibly has made you better at your role at Cundall? If so, how?
It has enabled me to better enjoy my job by giving me the time at home to suit my lifestyle. It is tricky planning my workload and filtering through the non-important items to address the important and urgent. However, I’ve found my planning and communication skills have improved out of necessity to make flexible hours work.
To find out more about working at Cundall, click here.
¹ research undertaken by ETZ Payments, a provider of back office software for recruiters.