Stuart Wells, CEO, Avenue Digital
This is not a new topic for business owners, and we’re certainly not claiming to reinvent the wheel when it comes to flexible and remote working policies, but it seems that with so much progress to be made in this area, Avenue is still trailblazing when it comes to empowering employees to work where and when they see fit.
The CIPD’s most recent UK Working Lives Survey we can see that shockingly, the UK still ranks 24 out of 25 for work-life balance, which as we approach 2020 is disappointingly low. It’s great that the Government has a working task force to deliver improved flexible working arrangements for UK employees, but this is not translating to the day to day for our workforce yet.
The Avenue Way
At Avenue, we’ve really embraced this new culture, and we’ve gone all in. Flexitime is about more than just setting core hours and allowing staff to start an hour earlier or finish an hour later. Although we haven’t done away with core hours altogether, some team members choose to start as early as 6am and do their core work early or late, but they are consistently there for clients when needed.
Remote working is just as important – if you need to work from home, no problem, and no need to book this in weeks in advance. We trust each other implicitly to do a great job every day and to always put our clients’ needs first.
Since introducing this new flexible working policy at the start of the year, we have found that our staff are happier than ever and able to fit their work around their personal lives – which is important not just for our working parents, but for those trips to the bank, dog walks and everything in between. For clients, this does not mean lack of cover – our team members all keep different hours and are respectful of each other’s working patterns, but there is always a senior expert available and ready to help whatever time of day it is.
Avenue is thriving on core Mondays – we have an agency huddle, followed by specialist team meetings on a Monday morning, which everyone attends in person, and this allows us to check in, unite and set ourselves up for success in the week ahead.
Keeping Stress to a Minimum
Workplace stress is all too common, and we believe that overworking is a key aggravator – agency burnout is something that we are proactively choosing to avoid as we gain momentum with new clients and scale up our team.
In CIPD’s UK Working Lives Survey, we can see that 60% of our workforce does overtime weekly, with almost 25% doing more than 10 hours of overtime a week – the equivalent of an extra day in the office. Ultimately, we see that significant overtime leads to reduced performance, as well as fatigue. While there may be the odd day where someone needs to work overtime, we always make sure we off-set this so that they have time to recover.
Celebrating our personal lives
Personal lives are the makeup of our team, and we do everything we can to make sure no one needs to sacrifice them. A quarter of employees find it hard to relax in their time off and find that their job affects personal commitments, both of which are too high.
After hours is just that, so relaxing is totally possible – unless of course you prefer exercising!
If every employer looked at their flexible working policies through the eyes of their employees – from the perspective of the recent grad, the working mum and the part time manager, would they feel that in all of their different shoes, they would be totally empowered to do the best work they can, while staying healthy and maintaining a happy balance? For me, the answer to this had to be yes, but it must always be balanced with the needs of our clients – they ultimately always come first, and we will make sure that we deliver excellent service from wherever we are working. This is an important issue for us and it’s something we’ll continue to review as we grow as an agency to ensure that employee welfare remains a priority.