Peter Liddle, Partner in our Critical Systems team discusses how flexible working has benefited his home life as well as one of his key clients, Facebook.
What prompted your decision to work more flexibly?
There are two main reasons that drive me need to work flexibly.
Firstly, my daughter, Maya. When she was at nursery it was fine (as the times were more in sync with our work hours), however, when she started school in September last year this became more difficult. Both my wife and I work so an 8.45am drop off and 3pm pick up became a logistical nightmare. We did not want to put Maya in breakfast and after school club in her first school year as we felt that the days would be far too long.
We have managed it through a combination of my wife adjusting her working hours (she works in education), her parents helping out and me doing some morning and evening runs. For the morning runs I come into the office late (around 10am) and for the after school pick up I will generally work at home, pick Maya up and then look after her until my wife returns from work (around 4.30pm). I then get back to work upstairs and complete my “normal” working day.
Secondly, in the role that I am in it is sometimes necessary for me to “lock myself away” so I can get things done without interruption (for example when I am finalising a fee and any interruption can mean I lose my thread; errors can occur very easily in excel spreadsheets!) For this, and other reasons I will work at home. I remain “contactable” but I can choose when to break my flow and speak with someone – which should mean less errors!
How does Cundall support you as a flexible worker?
Firstly, Cundall allowed me to adjust my working practice to be able to manage my domestic challenges. In the connected world in which we live with all the IT systems that Cundall have provided (VPN, laptop, Skype and SharePoint) this means that flexible working is very achievable and, I feel, can improve productivity if used correctly.
As a flexible worker do you feel that you have the same opportunities for training, development and promotion as someone who works regular hours and has the same ability and experience?
Absolutely. I suppose my flexible working is not at the extreme end of the spectrum, so I still spend around 80% of my time in the office (when not travelling with work that is).
What challenges have you encountered as a flexible worker? How have / do you overcome them?
Connectivity would be the main challenge but, as mentioned above, with a laptop and robust IT systems this is not really an issue at all. A remote desktop also allows me full access to the Cundall network and servers so I barely notice the difference. In our team we have a lot of meetings that are on video conference (VC) so I can easily join those from home. I do notice that our key client; Facebook also operate a very flexible working system. I will frequently see them on a VC and they will be working from home. They have a company policy to always have their cameras on during a VC – something we have rolled out in our team too, thus ensuring that the meetings remain as personal as possible.
How do you communicate with your team and keep in touch about project developments?
On the days where I am late in the morning I simply use my mobile phone and send/receive emails whilst on the train. When I am working from home I use Skype and bluejeans (Facebook’s virtual meetings software).
Are you the only member of your team working flexibly? If not, how do you ensure you are all up to date on projects etc?
We have a fair few team members that work flexibly. Several members work every Monday at home for a number of reasons. Others in our team will, for example, work from home if they have to be on a 6am call with Facebook. That way they don’t have to attempt to get to the office for that time and can finish early if needed.
Staying up to date is easy for the reasons mentioned above. Many meetings are on VC, we use SharePoint to collaborate across Cundall (and with other design team members) and Skype allows us to speak / video call and be aware when someone is free.
How has flexible working benefited you in terms of the impact on your personal life?
Kept me married! Seriously, the biggest benefit (and I cannot emphasise this enough) is that it has allowed us to keep Maya’s school day to a manageable length and not forced her to spend extra time in breakfast club or after school club. It is hard to measure that benefit but the comfort it has given to my wife and I (that we are not overloading Maya) has been significant.
Do you think the ability to work flexibly has made you better at your role at Cundall? If so, how?
Yes. It gives me quiet time when I need it (working from home) and allows me to help more with the care of Maya, which gives me peace of mind (one less stress to worry about).
Flexible working is a key aspect of Cundall’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Read more about it on our website.