Flexible working is a term that evokes idealistic images of funky firms happily supporting virtual working, with healthy team mates scattered across offices, homes and even beaches, merrily producing great results.
The idea is based on the premise that the rapid growth in increased connectivity offers employees
the chance to work from anywhere without compromising their productivity and subsequently
improving their wellbeing.
However despite technology being advanced enough to support such working for a while, the true
extent of adoption, in particular for large firms has been limited.
In the last five years we’ve witnessed a backlash to traditional and often token interpretations of
flexible working in the corporate sphere. Ideas of ‘one Friday a month working from home’ or ‘agile
working option leaflets’ begrudgingly being presented by your manager, simply didn’t cut the
mustard. Employees were and are demanding more; more flexibility; more freedom and more
Interestingly many people jumped ship towards the dream of entrepreneurialism and co-working
spaces. And as I sit, trailing out the ‘club rooms’ of Henry Wood House (Oxford Circus) I can see
why….there’s a buzz here; an energy of innovation and openness that seems to spark my
enthusiasm. There’s no judgement on routine, attire or dietary requirement….all of which contribute
positively to my wellbeing.
From Bali to Bristol
Even for some their vision of flexibility has surpassed the city and moved towards tropical climbs.
The ‘Tribewanted‘ phenomena now seeks like minded people to cluster together in communities
such as Bali, where they can collectively build lives full of wellbeing (think daily yoga, meditation
and juicing) and online business.
However back to reality for the majority of us, who remain geographically restricted by the
balancing act of employers, schools and family priorities.
This year sees the aftermath of the 2014 ‘right to request’ flexible working law. As ever their have
been murmurs of cynicism about what such regulation could achieve. Yet according to Virgin and
YouGov’s (2014) report that found 76 percent of us unable to work from home as often as we’d like, there
is clearly the appetite for change.
Fortunately as we ride the second half of 2015 companies, including those with a history of
opposition, appear to be making bold movements forward.
Last week I visited a client in Bristol who is renowned for their history, tradition and hierarchy. Yet I
noticed a genuine shift towards embracing ‘agile working.’ Not only were the possibilities marketed
well, they were celebrated, with success stories boldly advertised as the way forward.
Walking towards the well-being opportunity
So where does that leave us as employees? In some ways you could say we’ve got what we’ve
asked for – but do you personally feel like you’re making the most of it?
If not, it’s time to revisit what you want your wellbeing and work/life to look like. Regardless of
policy and process, your employers are opening doors that offer a chance to make empowered
decisions about your balance and wellbeing.
To maximise this wellbeing opportunity ask yourself the following key questions
1. What is my ideal vision of working life?
Sketch out at least 5 key elements, such as location, people, health routines.
2. How do I expect this vision to influence my wellbeing?
Identify if each element promotes your physical, mental and/or emotional health.
3. Which two elements do I believe will have the greatest impact on my wellbeing?
Ask yourself honestly to justify, to yourself, why you think it’s the most important.
4. What would help me achieve these 2 priority intentions?
Set out 3 practical steps that would enable you to move forwards each priority element
5. What does my company offer that will help me get there?
Map your actions back to your company’s policy and see what immediate things you can start
As always once you’ve set your plan the key is to get started… don’t delay and make the most of
your company’s revived interest so you can start your own wellbeing rival at work.