Flexible and Remote Working: We mean it!
Working from home, 2 years ago that was a luxury not many had.
Yet now you can have a look on LinkedIn and you will see tons of posts by parents saying how they cannot believe they used to just see their kids for one hour in the evening before bed. Now, people have a lot more time for their loved ones and their hobbies since they don’t have to commute in and out of an office whilst also being more present at home. Working at home (or anywhere where in the world for those wander lusting few) has become a new normal for our society and for the team here at Offploy.
Since working remotely has become our new normal we’ve seen productivity increase, improved colleague wellbeing and even a 4x growth of our service which helps to support even more people with convictions lead meaningful, contributing lives.
Compulsory remote working due to the pandemic saw our organisation implement more of a flexible working model for each of our colleagues and throughout Covid we have seen colleague’s needs change from taking a few hours out to home school their kids at optimal learning times to now working around the school drop-off, pick-ups and the dreaded bursting of bubbles in classrooms.
Being flexible and putting the family at the centre of everything we do at Offploy has always been a priority but we are struggling to get the message through for colleagues to prioritise themselves too, which is why I wanted to write this post for anyone who is a part of or considering joining our team.
Policies are great but sometimes a heartfelt message backed up by words of encouragement from all the team might be the push we need to start looking after ourselves a little more and now that we’re coming into our post-pandemic era and into this new world where remote working and personal time is so valued.
Here are a few requests I would like to make to ensure you’re making the most of your flexible working:
1. Prioritise your health like you prioritise those
We should be looking after ourselves in the same way we would look after our kids or even the people we support. I want you to prioritise exercise at the best time of the day that it suits you. You might not know this but my body-clock means that I usually ‘lull’ between the hours of 1 and 3pm. If you have caught me in meetings during this time you will find a Managing Director who shuffles on his seat, remains relatively quiet and brings little to the conversation and those closest to me tend to avoid meeting at these times. It is for this reason, after lunch, I fit in some exercise from a brisk walk to a full-on work-out then make the time up by starting a little earlier than most and typically squeezing some hours in on weekends. I love my family schedule and if I have the luxury of managing my own time, the whole team should have this too.
2. Take advantage of mid-week, mid-day
services and events
Since starting Offploy and being able to manage my schedule and be flexible to benefit my peak performance, I have long known the secret world of mid-week and mid-day services. I can pop into town and grab some shopping; and doctors waiting lists are usually more available, meaning that I get seen quicker and I beat the traffic without the mad rush of everyone else doing this after 5pm.
It proves less disruptive to my mental health and energy levels meaning there is more of me when I am doing the work. Sometimes by giving less we can give a lot more. I will add a side note here that even I sometimes feel incredibly guilty popping off to do these life administrative tasks despite the long hours I work. I am working on that and working on how I internally speak to myself, I would love to talk this through with my colleagues and see if they feel the same way or how that manifests for them.
3. Support your line manager to work flexibly too
An important note here is to also be mindful of your line manager’s schedule and respect that they too are coming to understand what their own flexible working schedule looks like. I have encouraged all our leadership team to avoid responding to non-urgent calls and emails during their down-time to set the right example to all colleagues. Have a notification system in place for emails marked ‘urgent’ (mine flag up on my phone as a notification where all other emails wait for me to check in and refresh my inbox) and encourage a well-being culture of either checking their calendar or emailing the person ahead of calling them - it is just courtesy! We need to respect each other's work boundaries.
4. Work from anywhere!
Sell your homes, cut the mortgage and go live in Taiwan! It might be a bit extreme for some but the idea still stands. So long as you can meet your role’s responsibilities, continue to deliver an excellent service and make it back for the quarterly team meetings (at your expense might I add!) then you should do it.
The world is now digitally flat, and we have been able to scale our service by recruiting colleagues all over the UK, hundreds of miles apart. I am sure that a few more hundred miles or a cabin in the Lake District (Wi-Fi permitting) will only stand to make our service better as colleagues find the inner peace that comes with revisiting their priorities.
Getting this right will help reduce reoffending and make society safer.
We know that looking after our colleagues means a better service for our candidates. This means we will strive to our mission with greater vigor, patience and attention to detail.
Our colleagues love flexible working to be active at a time that suits them
“I have often used the time that I have outside of normal work hours to talk to candidates in the evenings and submit job applications on their behalf. If I had to commute, that time would be spent in my car. For me, working from home provides considerable flexibility which allows me to provide a better service to my candidates and colleagues.”
“Remote working has been excellent, it has allowed us to engage with and support more candidates regardless of geographic location. This has meant that candidates can be supported with their needs and the team have developed skills, experience and knowledge on building relationships with local partners that will allow Offploy to continue supporting candidates but to also signpost candidates for specialist or ongoing support as required.”
Our candidates love it too
“After every telephone conversation, I was always left feeling more encouraged and more positive about my employment prospects for the future.”
“Over the last year I have worked with Offploy, they stepped in with their service when it was needed the most! I now feel fully prepared for the task ahead of applying for jobs and feel confident that I have all the tools I need!”
It is going to take a lot more than this blog post to develop a culture of true flexible and remote working. I had to wrestle with my own guilt initially and then with the fears of what others might think in both our team and the wider industry. We are going to come across hurdles such as sacrificing some of the flexibility due to colleague capacity or sudden spikes in growth and we will work through them every time until we reach the purest form of flexible working that this post is encouraging.
For those who need it: You have Offploy’s full blessing to work-out during the day; visit the doctors; take your kid to school or gran to the market. You can work from Bradford or Bali, Telford or Texas. All we ask is that you keep our mission in your heart; We can only achieve it if all our colleagues fulfil their roles and responsibilities to the best of their abilities.
Finally, I am asking our team to work with us on this, it will not be comfortable at times. Come with that level of understanding you bring to your candidates and help us achieve our goals of being a truly remote and flexible mission driven organisation capable of positively impacting people with convictions all over the world.
So, the big question is, what does next week look like for you?
Jacob Hill MD