One of the most common responses we hear from employers when bringing up the subject of flexible working is ‘It wouldn’t work for us’. And yet so many companies are already seeing the benefits. What do they know that others don’t?
To get an idea of how and why flexible working can (and does) work, we spoke to the HR director of international communications business Damovo – herself a flexible working mum.
Lynsey Tucker explains why flexible working benefits both Damovo and their employees, and shares her secrets for making it a success.
What does Damovo do?
Damovo specialises in business critical, highly secure communication environments – which demand deep technical capability, high levels of integrity and service excellence. Underneath it all Damovo is a technology company – but over the years we’ve evolved way beyond what might be termed a systems integrator or an ICT provider.
The company began operating 2001, and was born out of Ericsson. We help companies to:
- Improve communications among employees at all levels of the organisation.
- Enable geographically dispersed groups to effectively work across locations and time zones.
- Maximise the productivity and availability of mobile knowledge workers, reduce office costs and improve work/life balance.
- Improve the quality and efficiency of customer communications and engagement.
Our services include consultancy, design, transition, support and optimisation.
What makes you such a great company to work for?
We provide an environment that allows people to be who they want to be. We help our people develop themselves.
Continuous learning and investment in our people is paramount. Personal development, training and performance management are all essential for growing our skills and knowledge and sustaining our culture of service excellence.
How long have you worked at Damovo, and why do you personally enjoy working there?
I have been at Damovo since 1997. In that time I have grown and developed as a person, and what I enjoy most is the variety of work I tackle on a daily basis.
I am in the office every day but on flexible hours so I am still able to be ‘Mum’ and look after my family as well. I have the best of both worlds at Damovo.
How varied are the roles in your company?
The roles in our business are very varied, from engineers to professional people.
Why is flexible working important to Damovo?
We believe that flexible working not only benefits the employee, but also the employer. We have been offering flexible working at Damovo for several years now and see huge value in making this available for our people.
I have a very relaxed attitude to flexible working as we have a workforce that always pulls together and works really hard, so I think it is absolutely key to help individuals maintain a healthy work-life balance.
It is essential to keep people engaged in what they are doing and we find they want to give back more than what is expected because of initiatives like flexible working. Balance is the cornerstone of a good working relationship between each party.
And for you as an HR director?
It’s very important, as I want to make our positions available to as many people as possible and attract a diverse section of people. I believe that meeting our employees’ needs will create happier, engaged people which will ultimately hit our bottom line in profit.
What obstacles or difficulties have you encountered in introducing flexible working, and how have you overcome them?
We sometimes find it difficult to accommodate flexible working requests for all of our people as a lot of them work in direct customer services roles. In these instances we try to find job shares.
In what ways do employees work flexibly? Is there a set structure or is it tailored around the position and employee?
10% of our workforce work on a part time basis and we also allow people to work from home.
For those with children or caring responsibilities we foster an environment where term-time working can facilitate parents working while also supporting their families. We are also happy to extend this to colleagues who may not have parental responsibilities.
We promote working from home by giving people the right tools such as laptops, headsets and smart phones. Flexibility is in our DNA as a 24/7 client-focussed organisation – we don’t have rigid working hours in place so if someone wants to start work earlier to finish their day earlier, they can.
We also offer sabbaticals. Recently we had someone return from a six month sabbatical, now full of energy after being able to achieve some personal goals. It’s great to provide our employees with a positive work-life balance and support them to excel personally as well as professionally.
When did you first consider flexible working for yourself, and why?
I first applied for flexible working after I returned from maternity leave in 2010 after having my first son. I knew I wanted to balance the demands of being a mother while continuing with my career, and I am very grateful for my working arrangement. It really does provide balance.
How did you approach making a request?
We have a form you need to complete, which also asks you to provide an explanation as to how your role could be covered and further details on your request. I then discussed this with my manager.
How does your role work now?
I work four days a week from 8.30am until 2pm, and then one full day which I try to fit in around the business’ needs.
What advantages have you noticed from working flexibly?
I believe I am more productive working in this way as I have a finite amount of time in which to get things completed and I log on in the evenings to catch up on what I’ve missed. I am also happier as I am able to balance being a mother and having a career, therefore I am fully engaged and happy.
And what disadvantages have you noticed – and how have you overcome them?
I do feel frustrated if I have to leave in the middle of something but the technology allows me to take part if I need to and we have telephone and video conferences. I also have an I phone with emails which allows me to keep up to date.
What benefits has the company seen from flexible working?
The company has seen many benefits! Meeting someone’s personal needs is as important as work-related goals and it is critical in keeping people engaged and happy. By meeting those needs it makes them feel valued as a person within our business.
What steps are you taking to increase the flexible working opportunities at Damovo?
Whenever a new role or a change for a role is requested we firstly consider if this can be achieved on a part-time basis.
We are also guiding our people through the changes in legislation and our interpretation and providing training to our leaders on how to manage it and suggest it to their people. This will hopefully create as many opportunities as possible.
What advice do you have for companies who want to integrate flexible working?
Implementing a flexible working policy is good practice as it provides the right guidance to everyone.
It’s also important to have the right technology available to support flexible working – this will help to create and support a strong and efficient flexible team culture.
Having trained and empowered leaders in place who know how to enable a flexible workforce is also vital. From an HR point of view, we must ensure our leaders feel supported and informed on how to use the technology to stay confidently engaged with their own teams, so the business as a whole remains connected.
You can find out more about Damovo on their website.