A while back, when I worked in a call centre for a well known energy provider, I was reprimanded for being late 96% of the time.  It was found that every morning I was logging into the phone system between 30 and 120 seconds late. 

Basically, my train arrived at the station at 08:50 and I was ready for work by 09:02 but due to the inflexibility of the system, I was forced to adjust my schedule to get an earlier train, enjoy half an hour less sleep and have 30 minutes to kill every morning. The same investigation showed that over 50% of the time I logged out of the phone system after my official clock off time, often a good 15 minutes later…obviously that was fine.

Working nine to five, what an old fashioned way to make a living.

What a relief to now be working at Asset Bank, a company that actually believes in helping its staff to fit their working week around their life, commitments and commute. Yet many businesses still have working patterns as dated as mullets and brick-sized mobile phones.  This is totally at odds with what most people want from their working lives nowadays, which can be summed up in one word — flexibility.

Here are five ways that we’re right out in front on this score:

Flexible working hours

Pink alarm clock by mpho mojapelo

Image by Mpho Mojapelo

The fact is that there are the same amount of hours between 10:00 and 18:00 as there are between 08:00 and 16:00, and we believe that by allowing our staff to choose their working pattern, we get the best out of them. As long as we make sure that we’re still offering the very best service to our clients, flexible hours work brilliantly for everyone. The 9 to 5 just doesn’t cut it for the kind of smart, innovative, motivated people we want to attract. Some team members need to do school runs, others want to avoid the stress of rush hour traffic and others attend education courses. As long as team members work seven and a half hours a day, we’re willing to accommodate what works for them (within what’s reasonable and practical). We know that staff are more productive when they can work during their own personal best hours.

Flexible working days

Not all of our team are full time and do you know what? It works brilliantly. As part of our commitment to flexibility, we let people choose the amount of working days that suit them. We find that people are often more focused, productive and efficient when they have to complete their weekly tasks in, say, three days instead of five (and we have a coaching system in place to ensure that quality is still maintained).

Lunch, your way

Burger on red leather chair by Oliur Rahman

Image by Oliur Rahman

I find that lunch breaks are the ideal time to schedule in some exercise, or on sunny days, plan a get together with friends in Brighton’s world famous North Laine. Others find that a short 30-minute break for a Huel is enough before getting back to their desk for the afternoon. The point is, we let people do what works for them.

Finish on time “rule”

It’s not rigid, but we prefer it if our team go home on time because we think they’re happier and more productive this way. Of course, that’s not to say that we don’t do overtime when needed (we give our all to our clients and our product), we just don’t want it to become the norm. We think that even with the best intentions, quality of work and quality of life begin to suffer if you regularly work for longer than this.

Remote working

Laptop, leather bag and cup of tea on wooden cafe table by Olu Eletu

Image by Olu Eletu

As a company, we like to think we know a thing or two about technology. By using a few easily available tools such as Google apps, Voxhub, Basecamp, GoToMeeting, Skype and Facetime, we can easily stay in touch with team members who are out of the office. We have a global client-base, so we’ve had team members work for extended periods from other continents without any noticeable drop in connectivity and productivity. We even have a high definition security camera that remote workers can access to see who is at their desk, what the office fish are up to and even to zoom in to read (handwriting dependent) the post-it notes on our Kanban board!

We’re not saying that everyone should do things exactly the same way we do, but we do think it’s time that businesses shook of their rigid, “so last century” attitudes to accepted working patterns. We believe that greater flexibility leads to a happier, more productive, more motivated team. The freedom I have at Asset Bank improves my performance, I just wouldn’t have it any other way.

Andrew Hutchinson is Office Manager at Asset Bank, creators of five-star digital asset management software.

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