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How to thrive as a flexible workforce

We now live in a world dominated by social media, apps and start-ups. It’s undeniable that in the last few years tech has boomed.

Although tech has always been perceived as a solid career choice, in recent years it’s become a highly attractive industry to work in. For us, this has had an impact on recruitment as the market’s demand for certain skillsets has risen, primarily in software development. But, thinking differently and finding creative solutions where traditional industry fails or reacts too slowly to keep pace with the changing world is what the tech industry is all about.

Being a young progressive tech company which champions flexible working has helped protect us from this skills shortage. We now have a number of very talented employees who work flexibly from their homes both within the UK and around the world. Flexible working also applies to our office-based employees too. ‘Making Piriform a great place to work’ is one of our company objectives so we do everything we can to ensure employees achieve a work/life balance. About half our London-based staff don’t work strictly 9-5.30 and we recently approved our first flexible working request by a member of our development team which was made so he could help with childcare arrangements.

As today is Flexible Working Awareness Day I thought I’d share a few tips we’ve learned along the way...

Make Skype your best friend
This sounds obvious but if you have remote workers you must use the tools available to make everyone to feel like they’re in the same room, even if they’re not. Ensure remote workers are not forgotten by inviting them to scheduled catch-up meetings by Skype so they can equally contribute. Make using these tools part of your culture. We do this by setting up every new employee with a Skype account prior to their start date so they can connect with all their new colleagues as soon as they step in the office. 

Schedule visits (and remember to make the most of them)
Accept that with remote working comes the cost of face-to-face meetups. Communicate visits internally, schedule lunches and do what you can to make everyone feel part of one team. Visits from employees who work remotely are as much for business purposes as they are about building rapport with their colleagues. 

Benefit from natural working habits
It’s a fact of life that some of us are morning people and others are not. Some people thrive in a busy office whilst others need peace and quiet. Most of our developers choose to start at 8am because their role requires periods of intense concentration which they find easier whilst the office is quiet. Others start at 9:30am and work later to miss the worst of the London commute. Of course this requires a certain level of trust which can be factored in during the interview stage with one or two slightly more perceptive questions.

Practice what you preach
We want all employees to feel able to request flexible working, from director-level right through to our graduates. As directors at Piriform we have to take responsibility for striking the right work life balance – we think it is important to practice what we preach. I work four days a week and spend my time between the London office and working from my home in Cheshire where I live with my husband and three-year-old daughter.  My current working arrangement gives me the best of both worlds - doing a job I love and helping to create a company culture which allows others to do the same and also being a mum. I may need to jump on late night Trans-Atlantic calls but equally I can run to do a 5.30pm nursery pick up. It’s just all about balance, even if it’s balancing nursery pick-ups with board meetings!

At Piriform we believe that flexibility benefits both the employer and the employee. We get access a wider talent pool and our employees get to strike the right work life balance which makes them happier. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that we don’t meet at the same place at the same time every day. What we all agree on is getting the job done.

Read the article on IT Pro Portal

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