Offering employees an alternative to the traditional 9-5 working day is something we’re hugely passionate about (which is why we continue to bang the ‘flexible working’ drum) – and believe wholeheartedly that it’s the only way of working, and one which delivers tangible and wide-ranging benefits to all.
However, despite the long list of proven advantages – more motivated staff and higher productivity levels as a starter-for-ten – too many organisations are failing to adopt flexible working practices. Why? Because they have the un-founded belief that it will actually have a negative impact on productivity, will result in a disconnected or detached team, or they’re simply not convinced of the financial benefits. For all of you out there who fit into this ‘fear of flexible working’ box, I’d urge you to seriously think again.
Here At Zen, flexible working isn’t just a concept we apply to certain individuals, it’s absolutely something that we open up to every member of our team. And, we’re taking advantage of all aspects of it: whether that’s working from home, working part-time hours, or having the ability to take time off for important life events.
All of our employees are responsible adults, so we want to treat them as such. There’s no need to hover over their desks to ensure they adhere to a strict schedule which might not necessarily fit in with their family life, outside interests, or body clocks! Yes, we expect our team to work hard for us, but they don’t stop being individuals with their own passions and priorities the second they step over the threshold.
I’ve worked in firms where mothers are made to pretend their children are invisible, hiding in the toilet to take a call from nursery or missing every single nativity play or sports day. That’s ridiculous – why would being able to be fully present as a parent affect an employee’s ability to do their job? Hell, in my experience if you empower your team to live their lives, and I mean really live them, then it’s the ultimate win, win, win – for them, their clients and the agency as a whole.
And, we are truly already reaping the benefits – with happy, motivated and productive staff who are fiercely loyal to our company and our clients. Team members all work different hours to suit their individual needs, and definitely don’t work unpaid overtime on a daily basis, which is the case for more than a quarter of employees within the PR sector.
We deliberately chose to make Shropshire our home and there is some awesome talent here – but, it does have a reputation for being a little sleepy and for being somewhere you semi-retire to. The only way that we – and other firms competing against the city companies – will engage and retain the very best skills though, is to wake up and recognise that every employee has the right to be seen, to be heard, and to be allowed to be themselves.
So, ‘yes’ to finishing early to go paintballing, ‘absolutely’ to a later start time to allow a morning run, ‘of course’ to a longer lunch break while you head off to learn Spanish. Why not? As long as clients are loved and looked after, as long as the agency is thriving, and as long as the team is happy, then live and let live. We’ve been living this ethos for a year now and business has never been better.