National Work Life Week (11th to 15th October) is an annual campaign run by ‘Working Families’ to get both employers and employees talking about wellbeing at work and work-life balance.

Since Concise was started in 2008, achieving a balance of running the business whilst having a work-life balance has always been the aim and has made a difference both to attracting and retaining staff but also as a way of attracting like-minded clients and customers.

Concise’s values of Flexible ~ Quality ~ Knowledgeable ~ Helpful ~ Value for Money underpin everything we do for our clients and our team.

Mary set up the business with a view to offering flexible, virtual learning and to allow her to work around her own children’s (aged 12 and 10) needs.  Now with a team of 6 staff, continuing to embrace home working (the rest of the world has finally caught up with us 😊),  the importance of flexible working continues both in the way we work with learners and clients but also in our work policies which means that we strive to create work patterns which balance our client commitments with the needs of our people.

Flexible working at Concise Training

Over the past 13 years, we have seen offering a flexible working environment that gives our staff the space to achieve their work-life balance results in higher productivity, loyal staff, and a growing business.  Staff who feel able to attend children’s activities, partner’s hospital appointments, walk the dog or even rejig hours to early finishing to watch the latest James Bond film, are going to be willing to give back when extra hours may be needed to sort out a client emergency.

We have stories of our learners who have changed careers into the social media and digital marketing sector – offering opportunities to create their own work-life balance.  All courses are, of course, offered with flexibility in mind.

Since 2008 – and with the impact of the past 18 months, we have found anecdotally, the subject of ‘work-life balance’ is becoming more of the norm amongst office-based staff and more openly discussed in business networking events we attend.  Over the past few months, I have heard office-based staff working within all these models:

  • Working 40 hours over 4 days
  • Having the option to work longer Mon – Thursday and stop at lunchtime on Friday.
  • Taking a hybrid approach between working at home and in the office
  • Working at home 90% of the time, with monthly or quarterly face to face meetings
  • 100% working at home

From a management point of view, there is no doubt, as a home business model, we have to ensure we work as a team to make sure that everybody feels included and can share any issues or concerns.  Communication is key and recently we have scheduled regular short meetings involving different groups of staff (creative, technical, content, training) to spread the workload and make sure we are all pushing in the same direction.

Growth and aims for the future

Having grown in the last 6 months, with 2 new members of staff joining the team who have had steep learning curves in both how we do things and how our client’s voices should be represented, the importance of regular check-ins through Skype or phone calls as well as prompt and positive feedback to ensure team members feel included and contributing positively.  Mary will often check-in whilst on her lunchtime dog walk – a great time for learners to catch her as well!

An interesting article by Workstars outlines the benefits and drawbacks of the ultimate flexibility of working and offering unlimited holidays. As a business we don’t currently have plans to embrace this – not least because as a small business that creates real-time content for clients, we would find this difficult to manage – but perhaps it is something to aim towards?

However, this way of working doesn’t suit everybody and we share the real concern that a section of society is missing out on the support, learning and social life that meeting in an office can bring.  In larger office-based businesses, there is no doubt a conflict between those who just don’t want to do the commute anymore and those who need the learning, enthusiasm, and progression that can come from being around senior members of a team in a face-to-face environment.  Perhaps a solution is to use local meeting rooms/offices for ad hoc regular working days (rather than meetings) for people who live close by as well as using a more intense mentoring system.

This home-based working model clearly isn’t achievable for every business type. Many sectors must go to a pace of work and must work regular hours.  However, it is still important to consider how work-life balance can be achieved.  Models include:

  • Paid time to volunteer
  • Having a paid day off on your birthday
  • Gym membership
  • Access to health/fitness activities or wellbeing apps

I’d love to know how you have tackled this important issue or how you have seen the flexible working model work as an employee.