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Employing People Flexibly: Best Practice

Many businesses, particularly busy SMEs are still understanding how flexibility works best for them, their people and their customers but they haven’t got long to work it out. Without flexibility, hanging on to our best people and finding new talent can be a struggle.

In this business webinar we explore the best practices around recruiting, onboarding and managing flexible people and teams. You'll hear the feedback from companies who have fully embraced flexibility in their organisations, and pick up some pointers you can take back to your business.

Watch our webinar ‘Employing People Flexibly: Best Practice’, with Ten2Two’s Jo Gregory and John O’Sullivan



Jo Gregory (00:07):

Still just us now. No early birds yet. Oh, good afternoon everybody. We've got people joining already. Early Birds. I like it. Very keen, very keen to hear our John. Just give people a few minutes to join. It's my favorite bit of the whole webinar watching the numbers go up. So thank you everybody who's joining. Um, I'm going to ramble while everybody's joining and just welcome you all to our lunch and learn. Um, we've got John O’Sullivan with us today, one of the directors and founders of Ten2Two. For those of you who don't know, I'm hoping most of you do, we are experts in part-time and flexible working, and we know, um, how challenging it can be, um, for people entering into the world of flexible working from an employment point of view. How to manage people who are working part-time, hybrid, different working patterns all over the place. Um, so hopefully today we will be able to shed some light on best practice on employing people on a flexible basis. Um, both John and I have experience of doing this ourselves as managers. Um, John has years of experience doing this as a business owner. Um, and obviously through our work with Ten2Two, we advise and guide businesses day in, day out on best practice. So not only employing flexible people, but also managing them through their employment.

Jo Gregory (01:56):

Okay, it looks like quite a few of you have joined now. Thank you again for giving up your time. I do hope that you find this useful. Um, in a minute, I'm going to hand over to John. We've got a lot of content to go through, so I won't keep you for too long, but just a couple of, I guess, housekeeping things. We will be sending out information to you, including the slides, um, in a follow-up email. So no need to scribble away, unless of course you want to, you can relax and eat your sandwich. We can't see you, so eat as disgustingly as you like. Um, we will also be taking questions, so please put those in the Q&A box if it's something really relevant to the slides. I'll try and interject and interrupt John. He gets on a bit of a roll sometimes, so I might not be able to.

Jo Gregory (02:37):

Um, otherwise we'll try and put some time in at the end for questions. If, for any reason we don't get time, then we will follow up with a q and a document as well. Um, but hopefully as we said, you will take away some really interesting tidbits. Um, and both John and my information will be available at the end and in the follow-up email if you want to speak at more length about any specific issues that you might have. Without further ado, I'm gonna hand over to John O. Sullivan to take you through the content. Thank you very much.

John O’Sullivan (03:07):

Good afternoon everyone, and, um, thank you very much for joining us today. Uh, as Jo said, we, um, uh, we love doing these sessions at lunchtime. Um, I, I think in particular, I was tempted when she said that to have a bite of sandwich, so you nearly call me out there, Jo. Um, but, um, um, I think they're, they're, it, they're really designed to just sort of provoke some thinking on your side of, you know, am I doing this right? Um, it's really hard when we are all so busy in our day-to-day working lives, and we have emails and calls and videos constantly back to back. So we always like to think of these things as an opportunity for half an hour, just to step back for a couple of minutes and think about a particular topic. And what I often find is if I'm thinking about best practices and flexible working, my mind is going off into other things as well.

John O’Sullivan (03:58):

So hopefully this'll just be a good chance for you to reflect land just have a, a little, uh, break during the day. So we are going to talk about, uh, best practices and flexible working. As Joe said, we will send out both a set of slides, um, and a longer document that goes with that. So no need to scribble down. And, and what we like to do in our webinars is, you know, we don't promote ourselves. We like to talk about content. We're very passionate about flexible working and part-time, and we hope you find it useful. So let's just quickly look at the agenda. Um, we are going to talk about a couple of recruitment and retention challenges that some of you may be experiencing right now. Um, and then we're gonna have a quick run through the sort of four main areas.

Recruitment and Retention Challenges

John O’Sullivan (04:43):

So recruiting and onboarding flexible workers and managing them when they're working flexibly. And they're also talking about, briefly about managing teams that are working flexibly. Um, and we've all been through this, so particularly in the last couple of years since lockdown’s finished. And you'll see some of the slides are slightly content heavy. I'm not gonna read everything on the slides, but they're there for you to read. If you'd like to listen, um, then just do that. Um, however, we're just not talking about our expertise today. Um, what we've done to put this webinar together and the guide that will follow it is talk to some of our clients, um, particularly those people who we know have embraced flexible working over a number of years. You'll see some of their names and logos on the screen there, but really we were talking to them about what's worked for them and what may work for others that they do.

John O’Sullivan (05:38):

Um, and we've had some wonderful, comments and recommendations back. And as you go through slides, you'll see some quotes that are coming out there from people who are working in practice doing this on a day-to-day basis. So just talking about, so some of the areas around recruitment and retention at the moment. We'll kick off on the, on the right hand side of this chart. And there's a couple of, uh, quotes here from Sodexo who did a survey last year, and a couple of really interesting areas, particularly if you are in a small or medium sized business. And we always see that sort of up to sort of five, 500 employees. I think the government are now seeing it as 9, 9 9. But, um, just around flexibility, three quarters of people are saying they're more likely to apply for a role if there's flexible hours or there's some sort of flexible working pattern.

John O’Sullivan (06:26):

And we know at the moment with lots of HR people talking too that there is an issue on the number of candidates applying for roles. So the more attractive you can make a role, the more attractive you can make your business, the better. Um, but also particularly for, for smaller and growing businesses. Um, the second quote, they offered, 52% of employees would rather work for a big corporation. Um, nearly half of them said they were put off for working for a smaller business because lack of flexibility. So there's that perception around smaller businesses that they are less flexible. And in our experience, it's the other way around. Often, you know, bigger companies will say, oh, we're very flexible, we've got great flexibility practices. But when it comes down to teams, and it could be a bit more restrictive, but that's a perception that particularly smaller and medium sized businesses have to overcome.

John O’Sullivan (07:17):

Um, on the left hand side, it is just all about retention. It's about are you engaging your employees? Are you creating the right, um, uh, environment for them? Are you, are you recognizing that the thing that people do most in their lives is work - alongside sleep? You know, that's the majority of our lives is working and sleeping. So if that is not a, um, a good environment for people at the moment, then they very quickly choose to do something else. And, um, and they need to keep up that retention. Um, Oxford economics said that the cost of recruiting a professional, um, uh, in any particular, uh, sector can be between 28 and 40,000 pounds. So if somebody leaves, you have to re-recruit, you have to re onboard, you have to get people up to speed, and that cost is between 20, 30,000 pounds. So not just having a happy company, not just having a productive company, but engaged employees who are gonna stay and be loyal is absolutely key.

John O’Sullivan (08:18):

So let's move on to start thinking about flexibility. Um, and, um, there's a great, great quote here from Fiona at RDT who really highlighted in our survey that, you know, whereas before the pandemic flexibility was often a women's issue, it was something that, you know, many women needed, that a lot of employees were thinking about women in their business. And that women they were recruiting wanted flexibility, but men didn't. Um, that environment has very much changed. So when you're thinking about flexibility in your business, it applies to all of your people. Um, it's not just women. It's not just childcare anymore. There's an increasing amount of, uh, caring for your parents. There's an increasing amount of people who want to do other things, whether that might be charitable activities or have other interests. That flexibility is increasing, um, all the time. The demand for it is constantly rising.

Incorporating flexibility into a role

John O’Sullivan (09:10):

So all kicks off with in incorporating flexibility into a role. And one of the things we often talk to our clients about is when you are either creating a new role or indeed re-advertising a role because somebody's left the business is you should look at that job design and look at it critically. With a critical eye, you should think about what does this role need? Does it still, if someone's leaving or if I'm thinking about something new, what are the functional needs? And the functional needs are primary, right? The job has to be done and it has to be done well. So all the other things surrounding that, um, are, you know, secondary at the most, but sit alongside it. But the job has got to be done. So you need the right person with the right skills, the right experience, the right attitudes, to get the job done.

John O’Sullivan (09:56):

Then you have to think about the flexibility that's gonna get the right employees and right candidates to apply. And once you've got lthose applying, you've then got to think, okay, how do I bring them into the business? How do I make sure that when I'm going through a recruitment process that not only am I checking that I'm getting the right person in a flexible environment, but also that I'm selling my business to them. Because it, there is definitely a two-way street. You're selling to each other when you get into that area, but you start off with really good flexible job design. Um, it needs thinking through, it deserves a bit of time in your day to take that out, um, and then make sure that flexibility is not just around the person, the job, but also works for the team and works for the business.

John O’Sullivan (10:43):

So there's no point in somebody having great flexibility and that putting a huge amount of unexpected pressure on the rest of the team. And what you often find is that even if a whole team is working flexibly, some are working part-time, just some tweaks and changes can make sure that that whole team is performing very well. So three things. Make sure that that flexibility is built into the job design and make sure you are meeting the functional requirements. And thirdly, make sure that any flexibility meets the needs of the whole business and the team around them. Some great quotes there. Um, and I love the third one. You know, one of our clients, very practical, very down to earth - focus on skills, experience and values of the role, and the individual. The desire to work from home is a secondary detail. And I think that's what we're trying to emphasize here, is that that's got to be, uh, the primary thing. And flexibility can definitely work for pretty much every role.

Interviewing and selecting flexible candidates

John O’Sullivan (11:38):

When we move on to that process of bringing those people in, there's a couple of things to think about here. I think everyone that's on the session today - if you have recruited in the last couple of years, you've probably done some of it over video. Um, and if you've been interviewing, uh, if you've been recruiting in the last four years, you would've definitely done some over video because you couldn't have met face-to-face. Um, but uh, the first thing we often talk about is if you are interviewing over video, the process of that video, uh, session is really important to get right. Um, because if that in first contact, if that first interview doesn't work well, if the technology's not set up properly, if you're not adjusting how you interview and how you allow your, uh, candidate to engage with you, um, in the right way, then you may miss the perfect person.

John O’Sullivan (12:32):

So we do have a guide if you're interested, um, in just getting on, we have a short guide for this, the, just really sort of top 10 things to think about. Um, just either, um, drop me an email when you see my email address at the end, or put something in the questions and we'll send that off to you. But, but during that particular interview, there's a couple of things I wanted to, um, to highlight. So first of all, this is soft, soft skills. And, um, you know, when we look at things like, um, you know, skills-based interviewing and competency-based interviewing, one of the things that's often missed out is the soft skills. And people think, oh, you know what? I, I often pick up the soft skills from the interview, but when you are not face-to-face, sometimes picking up those soft skills can be a bit more challenging.

John O’Sullivan (13:18):

So the things we like to think about are, here's three things to test, maybe ask a couple of questions around, which is, you know, how do you communicate? How have you found communicating in an environment which is primarily video-based, rather than face-to-face? How have you found your practices changing? What have you had to do to make those changes? So pick, try and pick up the effectiveness of your candidate's communication skills, because if they're not good at communicating in a remote environment, that might be sometimes remote, sometimes an office, and then they're gonna struggle from day one. The second one is teamwork. And I think in a hybrid environment when you are, you may see some people, some days you may not see them for other, for maybe a week or two in, in other areas, how people work as a team and they consider their colleagues and how they, um, uh, how can I put it, how they are empathetic to what's going on around them is vitally important.

John O’Sullivan (14:12):

This whole area of collaboration, this whole area of recognizing needs of your colleagues is now becoming particularly - even in senior roles. Um, you know, often people talk about gravitas in the senior role. What's that mean? It used to be maybe six foot two white male, you know, 50 years old was gravitas. Now people talk about gravitas, the ability to pull individuals and teams together from different places and getting them working as a unit. If you could lead a team on that basis, that's gravitas. So teamwork, how do you draw those teamwork skills out of people? And then thirdly, personal organization. And particularly if you're recruiting somebody on a part-time basis or somebody who may have a hybrid working pattern is you want to check that they can organize themselves well. That they're not chaotic that they understand that, you know, if they're working with different other people's working patterns, that they're fitting within that well and that they're capturing the things they need.

John O’Sullivan (15:11):

They're using the tools that they need that you are making available to do their job well. So absolutely vital. And then as I mentioned earlier, the third one, sell the culture and working environment and make sure that you are, you are realistic about doing that. The only thing I would say is don't oversell. Because as soon as someone steps into the business, they'll realize that the delivery and the practicality of what you were saying, is it there or isn't it there? And, and what we do find is that people are much more willing, um, to walk out of a business now, soon into their employment, than they were before. And that's not just the pandemic, that's just purely working culture now, um, is that people won't tolerate, uh, being oversold to during the recruitment process. So ensuring that you are doing the right things and then selling that culture work environment is really important.

John O’Sullivan (16:01):

So some great quotes, I hope you might been able to read, um, on the left hand side. Concentrate on communication skills in particular. Um, highlight the work-life balance, you know, talk through what a day would look like. Um, some really good, uh, tips here. All of these, um, uh, quotes are in the, the guide that we will also send you.


Onboarding, um, is oh, just that early stage. You know, if anyone on the call has had more than two or three jobs, we've probably been in one where you've gone into an office, sat down on your first day, looked around, you know, nobody's introduced you to people, they've given you a pile of documents to read, your laptop's not arrived yet, you haven't got an email address yet, you know, you're sitting there, your first two days are a) unproductive, and b) you start thinking about, you know, is this a good company or not?

John O’Sullivan (16:54):

You know, what have I done? And it's a really sensitive time for new employees. You want them to buy in really quickly to your business. You want them to interact with their colleagues really quickly, and you want them to become productive as quickly as you possibly can. So, successful onboarding is really important. A lot of recommendations we have from clients were that even if you are fully remote, are there ways that you can organize some in-person meetings, some face-to-face meetings at an early stage? So whether it was with key individuals and colleagues or teams, or is there a team meeting coming up where you can say, you know, it's not for three or four weeks, but, you know, talk to people on video, but put this in your diary. You will meet the team. So how can you draw that person into the team and make them feel, um, belonging as quickly as possible?

John O’Sullivan (17:48):

Um, so, you know, many larger companies now talk about belonging as a really important part of their employee experience, and you want them to feel that they belong. Um, think about the team's requirements as well, not just the onboarding needs of the new person, but what will the team need to do? Who does the team need to meet? Um, what's the working pattern? Make sure that the communications is all working around that very early stage. And as I said earlier, have that technology ready. Um, you know, there's nothing really to stop us from setting up emails, to having a laptop primed, you know, if somebody's gonna be working remotely, are you getting a laptop to them 48 hours before they start? Is it going to arrive or is it gonna be caught up in some, you know, Amazon nightmare <laugh> where it gets them a couple of days before. It needs a little bit of forward thinking.

Managing ‘flexible’ people

John O’Sullivan (18:37):

So we're gonna move on now for a couple of minutes to, um, managing flexible people and flexible teams. And this is where we had some really practical advice and I think, you know, management is, um, uh, somebody was saying, we did a podcast with a guy Francis from Virgin Money, um, a couple of weeks ago. And he was saying, you know, the thing that always frustrates him as a senior HR professional is that, um, he'd say to leaders and directors, you know, tell me about your managers. How good are your managers? And he'd go, oh yeah, they're a bit of a mixed bunch. And he would say, you know, just not good enough. You know, managers have a very hard thing to do. They have a variety of people to manage. They have, they often have a day job of their own, and they're often trying to deliver what might be some changing goals in a changing market environment.

John O’Sullivan (19:29):

So the manager is the, is the, is a fulcrum of, of making organizations work. And, um, and when we think about them managing flexible people and teams, in some ways that can be more challenging than whether you've got people in the office with you every day. Now, the idea of, oh, I have everybody with me every day. We did an exercise before where we asked people to count up the number of hours in their diary that they were actually sitting with their team every day. And in one company, um, one of the team managers said, oh, I, I have about two hours a week when I'm actually in the office. So his requirement was, I like to see the team, I like to know what they're doing. He was never there. So, um, so it was something that he thought he had, but he didn't actually have that control.

John O’Sullivan (20:13):

So managing flexible people, it, it often comes back to this ‘over communications’. So checking in with people in mornings, um, if they're not gonna be in the office, making sure that, um, particularly in the early stages, so you may have gone through the sort of formal, you know, onboarding point, but making sure that you know, people are well, that people feel that they understand what's required of them, that you're feeding back to them, that you are, um, that the team are talking in a good way. Communications at the moment is absolutely so vital in what we're doing. Um, and, um, and performance management is, you know, is I, I think if anything from a, from a manager's perspective, the thing that they should take most attention of at the moment. So making sure everybody understand to what's expected of them from a goals perspective, um, giving them regular feedback about how they're getting on with those goals.

John O’Sullivan (21:10):

Not just, you know, have you, have you achieved your objective? Has that project been finished? But how are you doing, how are you doing the goal? I've recognized, you know, I've had feedback from your colleagues or I've noticed this, or you said you were concerned about this. How are you giving that sort of regular feedback to people and checking in with people on regular basis? You know, many managers will do maybe a sort of formal meeting if, particularly if they're busy personally, maybe once or twice a month, um, or once, twice a quarter sometimes. Um, but just that, you know, making sure that once a week you are checking in, I thought we'd spend 10 minutes just seeing how things are going, um, is vital when you are once again in a, in remote environment in particular. Because what we tend to do is on video is we go through our agenda, you know, we don't have that, you know, I say call it water cooler moment.

John O’Sullivan (22:02):

We don't have a time when we're just sitting there in the morning making a cup of tea when we get into the office. You know, that checking that people used to informally do, um, is now to, to all intents and purposes, in many companies gone. So if you're only together maybe once a week face-to-face or once a fortnight or once a month face-to-face, you still don't get that informality. So as a manager, just doing those check-ins with your people, how's it going? Anything that, um, I can help you with, um, making sure that they are, um, that they're comfortable and that they're productive is good. And then finally,

Jo Gregory (22:34):

Sorry John, just to interject, there's a really nice question, a really good question that's come in, um, expanding on that point and talking about the, the kind of, um, the relationships in the wider team and obviously people's time being very precious. How would you suggest a manager might go around replicating those water cooler moments across the team rather than just between the manager and, um, employee relationship?

John O’Sullivan (23:02):

Yeah, it, it is a really good question. Um, you know, by inference, when you are in a remote environment, you can't have a water cooler moment because you're not physically there and around them. Um, some, some organizations that, um, we've worked with have done some quite interesting things. One of them does a sort of a wind down Friday session and, um, and what they'll do is they'll get as many people as possible, so it's not compulsory, but they'll get everyone on a call 4.30 on a Friday, um, and they will just ask people, they'll either have a theme which is, you know, your food you love most, the food that you know, you wouldn't touch. Or they'll have a, something like a, you know, a good and bad for the week, you know, what's, what's been your highlight, what's been your lowlight? And, um, and that in particular is a theme, is it often, it often enables the team to highlight good things that have happened in the company that week that people might have missed.

John O’Sullivan (24:03):

So we had this feedback from a customer or, um, we had an operational issue and we fixed it in less than an hour. That was my personal highlight, you know, and all of a sudden then people start to share that and understand it, which might have been missed otherwise. And excuse me. And in my experience, this idea of a, a lowlight is sometimes it brings to light some problems that might have occurred in the company that have not been discussed or somebody saying, you know, this meeting really didn't go well or something. And often what I saw was people then reaching out. So there's people afterwards saying, let me know if you need any help. So it's those invisible things that you don't pick up on, you know, those, those pointers in a physical environment, that's something like a wind down Friday. And actually what this company used to do was to say, okay, it's five o'clock, you know, laptop's down unless you're doing something really important, let's leave the week here.

John O’Sullivan (24:55):

So it was a nice early finish. It was a sort of firm close to the week, and the chief exec would just talk about what's going on next week. So everybody's sort of had in their mind what the priorities were in the coming week. It's a really nice way of doing it. So those sorts of informal sessions, I think they're good where there's no real fixed agenda, um, but you're just getting together and, and often, you know, we do know when you're sitting together as a group, it's hard for everyone to, to, to join in. Some people are less likely to that. So maybe a theme is really good way of doing it.

Jo Gregory (25:26):

Lovely, thank you.

John O’Sullivan (25:28):

Um, so I think the final thing that I would just say, um, in terms of managing flexible people, um, is making sure that around the check-ins and the performance mentions that you are talking about personal professional development. And we did a project with a large company, um, towards the end of last year, uh, where we were asking their ex-employees why they left and, uh, their ex-employees love the business. Um, but what they, the reason that they left was that they didn't feel that they had a good personal development program or a career path. Um, and, you know, it was just a great indicator that, you know, people want to develop as people, they want to develop their professional skills, they want to know that there are ways that they can do their job more effectively through development. And making sure you give time for that is really, really key.

Managing flexible teams

John O’Sullivan (26:19):

And moving on to teams for a couple of minutes. Once again, I think the first point we make is over communicate again. Um, I don't think we ever communicate enough. I think sometimes when you meet a really good communicator, somebody who communicates really frequently, you realize sometimes how, um, how, uh, uh, well, I realize how deficient I can be in that area sometimes. I just assume people know things, but sometimes you just have to make that one step further and make sure they know. Going back to the point you just made, Jo, facilitate those informal interactions and don't let things become functional. Um, and you know, we're, we're firm, uh, believers in the use of numbers, um, to help people understand where they are as a business. So whether that might be, is the, is the company achieving its targets? Are projects working on time?

John O’Sullivan (27:10):

You know, just allow people to help to recognize their own priorities and where they might be spending their time differently, um, and making sure people can structure their week around goals and teams around goals. So, you know, once you realize that a team, even if it's a whole company, that particular goal allows people to structure in their minds, um, what the, um, their, their own priorities should be. I think team performance, um, when we talk about the, these highs and lows. But, but calling out, I think, uh, great examples of performance I think is really valuable. Once again, it, it used to be something where somebody would go, oh, Jo, great job on that last week. As you walked through the office, you'd go, that was brilliant, and what Jo heard was great job. So that was good for her. And what everyone else heard was great job, Jo.

John O’Sullivan (28:00):

So not only was, you know, Jo's doing a good job, but also someone in the team is getting, you know, great feedback. When you take that out and you are too functional, you forget to highlight some of those, um, team and individual performances. So when you are getting together, sometimes it's good even just to start a session with, you know, before we start, you know, I talked to Jo last week about what a brilliant job she did on this project. Um, and I asked if I could share that story with you, and I just want to talk about it. Sometimes be very careful about putting people on the spot. Or you might say, for example, um, about the technology team getting a new product feature to market twice as quick as it did. You know, it just once again raises the bar a little bit. And some great, um, um, some quotes here, open communication, clear instruction, empathy and kindness is a really, you know, that's one quote from a person and it's a lovely summary for this whole area of communication, clear instruction, empathy, and kindness. It's great. Jo?

Jo Gregory (29:04):

There's a, sorry, there's a question that's come in that I think is really brilliant question, but also a very, very difficult area at the moment. Question is, uh, what is your advice on integrating part-time or remote employees when the majority of employees are office and full-time? Now we, we've seen this difficulty. Have you got any thoughts or advice on, on how to make that work?

John O’Sullivan (29:27):

Um, yes. I mean, we, we have lots and, and, um, happy to, you know, even have a call with this person afterwards if that's something that they'd like. Um, there are some things there where, um, as we said, think of the needs of the team. Um, what we often find is that, um, when somebody's part-time, uh, you need to, you need to be very clear on what the deliverables are gonna be on both sides, on the full-time and the part-time. You need to make sure that the communications are working well. So if somebody's working on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and you have your team meeting on a Thursday, um, uh, or you, or you get together on your monthly team meeting on a day when they're not there, then everything starts to become disconnected. So I think what you have to do is, is be very deliberate about how tasks are completed.

John O’Sullivan (30:19):

So for example, if somebody's doing three days a week, then if there needs to be a handover, that handover at the end of a Wednesday, (let's say they’re doing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), they need to know who they're handing things over to, the person they're handing over to, needs to know to expect it. So that, that needs to be, you know, be collaborative from that perspective. And the handover needs to be, um, enough instruction and guidance for that to be done. So if Jo, if you said to me at the end of Wednesday. In fact, we do this - the Ten2Two team are a hundred percent remote and nearly 90% part-time, um, and we work on teams all day, and I can see, um, the coordination sessions that happen amongst the team. So I'm going to, I'm, I'm finishing today, this has to be picked up tomorrow.

John O’Sullivan (31:09):

Somebody will pick it up. Once again, it's that communication that happens on the handover. So if the job is designed well, the job can be done Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but inevitably there’s going to be things that might need to be done on a Thursday and Friday. And I'm just giving one example of a part-time format there. Just think through the communications, think through any handover requirements, think through what the customer might expect, um, if, for example, there's some customer facing elements. But in our experience, it works very effectively, as long as, as long as those processes are put in place. Once again, I'm happy to pick that up, um, at a later stage, given the timing. So we've got minutes that we had in the slot. I'll finish off what I was saying here. And then, um, as I said, if there are any questions that we can't ask because of time, we'll come back to the group,

John O’Sullivan (31:56):

we'll give answers to them. Um, just once again, wanted to pick up, um, another one of the quotes on the left hand side. Um, you know, this whole area around, uh, the third quote there, ‘making sure you put in place an effective method for the team to communicate and share information’. So this is also where the part-time or full-time works. How is information going to be shared? Is something, for example, that you are doing - um, you know, if there are documents that the person who’s part-time, um, uh, might have that the others might not have, and they're not available all week, then is that maybe on OneDrive? Um, is it using a shared platform that those documents are available to everybody, not just the person who might not be working? So if you think about, if you've never worked with part-time people before, just think about what happens when someone's on leave. You know, it's the same sort of processes, really. If I'm going away for two weeks, I hand over, I make sure the documents are there. I know my customers, if I'm customer facing, know what to expect, I know what the project team is going to be doing while I'm away. Um, so it's the same sort of process.

Don’t forget the small print

John O’Sullivan (33:07):

Um, I'm just gonna say, I'm not even gonna talk for long about this. There are, you know, there are legal and, um, statutory things that you need to think about around flexible working. Um, I think when you have a mix of working patterns, having a policy so that everyone understands, you know, the starting point is absolutely critical. So a flexible working policy, um, is, I think, is important as a base case. Um, the operating process is, we just talked about that. Who, how, and when is the company working? Um, think about your flexibility. Is it formal or informal? Does something need to be written into a, an employment contract or are you happy to, or, and your employees happy to just have some formality? I mean, we know organizations where they're massively informal. You know, as long as you do what you have to do, we don't care where you are, we don't care when you're logged in, you know, these are your goals, and if you achieve your goals, you're doing a great job and the company's going to be productive.

John O’Sullivan (34:07):

You know, that's the ultimate. Um, and actually I will, um, when we send out the, uh, the documents, I will send with it a link to Virgin Money's new, uh, flexible working policy. Um, and they're very Virgin about it. Um, and, you know, as you expect a sort of Virgin organization to be, you know, they have 30 days leave, they, I think they have another 20 days discretionary leave, then on top of that, they have other wellbeing days off. They have, you know, they, they have no rules around location. Um, really interesting, but they've done a load of research around it. And I'll, I'll share that with you. Um, and then also if you are in an environment where somebody may put in a, a formal flexible working request, um, there is a procedure in there. Um, in the guide we send out, there's a one pager from an organization we do work with called Machins, which is a Luton based, uh, legal practice, um, around flexible working requests.

John O’Sullivan (35:08):

So take a look at that and, and talk to him if you need any more guidance. Um, and finally I'm gonna finish off with, um, a quote from Nicola at CPS, um, who, you know, I sort of, I, I really loved it. And, um, actually I think Nicola might be joining the webinar today, I'm not sure she did or not, but, so I, you know, I want to, um, uh, I'll big her up here, but I loved it. “Lead don't manage, share the highs, learn from the lows, listen and praise”. And I think that summarizes pretty much everything we've talked about in the last, um, uh, 30 minutes. And, you know, when we think about, you know, what's going on in, in the environment today with both on businesses, you know, the, the latest ONS data, talking about still issues around supply of products, around, you know, the cost of products pushing prices up, um, and then the whole cost of living crisis that people are experiencing.

John O’Sullivan (36:09):

Um, it, it, it does demand that we manage people not just the work. So that's not changed from before. It's, we need to do it more deliberately now. So thank you. I've put a couple of, um, email addresses up here, um, Jane that some of you will know. Um, you can contact me on email. Um, and Jo is just So I hope you've been able to take something from this today. Um, thank you very much for taking, um, a little bit of your lunch. Hope you've managed to eat a sandwich or eat your salad or whichever your, your, your preferred lunch is. I think it was a great quote that, um, something like 73% of people that eat the same thing for lunch every day. And, and, um, and I'm, I'm a guilty one. So <laugh> and thank for joining. Jo, do you want to close?

Jo Gregory (36:59):

Just yeah, just to say again, thank you so much for joining. Um, if any of you do have, I know we haven't had time for your, your questions, but we will follow up with documentation. Um, if any of you do want to ask anything specific, then John, Jane, myself and the rest of the team are all available. Um, we will try and be as helpful as possible, um, and guide you in the right direction. Um, we know it's really, really difficult navigating all of the different types of flexibility and making sure that you are being everything to everybody. So we, we understand that it's difficult, um, and we are just here to help. So thank you ever so much for joining us. We really do appreciate it and enjoy the rest of your days.

John O’Sullivan (37:41):

Yeah, thank you for joining everybody.

Jo Gregory (37:43):


John O’Sullivan (37:44):




38 min read