Resilience, Flexibility and Agility in the Creative Industries and Beyond

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Nine to five, the ‘modern’ work day (yes, that’s an air quote). There have been songs about it, memes about it, blogs about it… The Monday to Friday, 9-5 work regime has been in play for longer than living memory (I’ve looked it up - around 100+ years, so kind of), but does anyone actually like the 9-5 working module? Sure. Do those very same people moan about Mondays, pray for Fridays and spend sorrowful Sundays filled with dread? Maybe. All is not lost, we are entering a new era, a truly modern working module that tips the scale of work/life balance in favour of life… Flexible working hours: allowing employees to customise their hours from the normal company start and stop time to accommodate their hobbies, activities, and responsibilities outside of work. 

In an effort to stay ahead of the trend, we have teamed up with Aimee Postle (Director of Prova PR) to gain an insight into the positive benefits of flexiworking and why it is important for employee wellbeing. This week will welcome Aimee and other industry specialists to discuss ‘Resilience, Flexibility and Agility in the Creative Industries’. If you would like to join us for this event, please contact [email protected] . In the meantime, here’s what we have to say about Flexiworking…

‘The world is changing. There are currently a lot of conversations happening around the four-day working week, productivity, how we can make things better for people and the environment… Though we have come a long way from previous generations, we still have a long way to go to futureproof our workforce,’ says Aimee.

Constant advances in modern technology have made remote working more achievable than ever. For some bizarre reason, there is still a widespread distrust of flexible working in the UK - despite numerous case studies which illustrate the multitude of positive benefits. Nevertheless, flexible working hours are on the rise, with some job seekers listing it as a non-negotiable benefit when looking for a new role. There are a number of different agility arrangements that can be negotiated into your contract, including (but not limited to):

Flexible working hours/Flexitime: allowing employees to fit their working hours around agreed core times. This is a popular system, which we have introduced here at Gleeson Recruitment Group - our employees may choose to start or finish any time between 7 am and 7 pm so long as they complete their contracted 8.5 hours a day. This has benefited our working parents who are able to alleviate and support their partners in the school run, reduce the cost of child care and even avoid rush hour traffic. It has also been taken advantage of by our lunchtime gym enthusiasts.

Telecommuting: one of the most significant advantages that modern tech has allowed us, is the ability to work remotely - enabling employees to choose their ideal working environment. We have invested in the software, tech and tools so that our staff can set up office no matter where they are. Unless you are a fulltime remote worker, your physical presence may be required in the office to attend meetings or training on certain days. But on other days, so long as you are reachable via phone and email, and you have a secure internet source, there is nothing stopping you.

Aimee says, ‘I think the key thing around wellbeing, flexibility and all of these big topics in the workplace is communication – initiatives are only going to work if everybody is talking to one another. There also has to be that trust, that two-way respect. If you’re not always in the office, you need to communicate with your colleagues, you need to maintain your relationships with clients and make that extra effort or else it won’t work.'

Work from home: I know what you are thinking - no one actually works from home, they will simply leave their laptop online whilst they lay across the sofa, binge-watching 8 consecutive episodes of their favourite show, in their pyjamas, eating cereal out of a pan, right? Wrong. Studies have shown that working from home actually increases productivity. Management at Gleeson encourages working from home when staff feel it’s needed. Many studies suggest that employees are conscious of proving that they can work effectively from home in order to justify the arrangement – they are likely to start work sooner, finish later and work during the hours that best suit their energy cycles (yes, that’s a thing).

‘I have worked in the industry for 12 years, from SME to a global reach and they have been brilliant with both ad-hoc flexibility and longer-term arrangements. I think this is especially important for people returning to work after a long time off. Working from home, or flexiworking in general can really help to make that transition smooth, giving employees the time they need to rebuild their confidence and adapt to the new environment at a pace that suits them.’

Compressed hours: Does exactly what it says on the tin - working your usual agreed hours in fewer days. Our employees often request compressed hours to accommodate their studies, child care arrangements or any other weekly commitments, responsibilities or hobbies they may have. 

‘Agencies are now looking at flexible working hours outside of childcare and it’s great to see that in practice – I currently have a flexibility arrangement that is tailored around my studies.’

With countless internet sources and an entire computer system in your smartphone, do you need to be in the office to be productive? Is it necessary or habitual? Is it presenteeism or immutable? Flexible working shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, and policies shouldn’t just be aimed at working parents. We have the tech and the internet access we need to work remotely from anywhere in the world, so why not change it up? Allowing employees to deviate from traditional working hours and determine their own work schedule and environment shows them that they are trusted and valued by the company. Not to mention…

… it is time spent smarter– sitting shoulder to shoulder for eight hours straight does not guarantee productivity. Allowing employees to tailor their working hours to the times that they are most productive naturally increases efficiency – meaning more and higher quality work. Flexible working also eliminates the countless wasted hours of the morning commute (or at the very least reduces them) saving both employees both time and money.

… there are fewer distractions– though some employees thrive is the office hubbub, others may prefer to pick their surroundings. Some love the bustle of an office environment, the productivity peer pressure - others prefer the solemn silence of a contemporary co-work space. No matter where you work from, getting out of the office means no lengthy meetings, no business dress and no communal coffee corner chit-chat. 

… it improves wellbeing– enabling employees to adapt their working hours around their commitments and hobbies outside of work inevitably leads to a better work/life balance. As a result, employees have the time they need to focus on their physical and mental wellbeing, reducing psychological stress and improving retention. This means happier, healthier and I dare say dedicated staff.

‘In my sector, I have found that creative people tend to be incredibly passionate about what they do and they want to complete every brief to over and above the expected standard. They will say yes to every opportunity and can sometimes overburden themselves and struggle to ask for the help they need, which leads to burn out.’

You can take an employee out of the office, but you can’t take the office out of the employee. Tech offers us the ability to work from home, but also the opportunity to never stop working. With never-ending email chains, cloud computing and telecommuting, some could argue that it’s now harder than ever to ‘leave the office’. That’s why it’s imperative to set out workplace boundaries and expectations as to when work should begin and end. No single schedule is right for everyone… some love the bustle of an office environment, the productivity peer pressure - others prefer the solemn silence of a contemporary co-work space or the background noise of a coffee shop. Sure, not all industries can partake in flexitime, and no all employees prefer it. But having the option feels like a step in the right direction, to future proof your working environment. 

Aimee says, ‘the world is changing. There are currently a lot of conversations happening around the four-day working week, productivity, how we can make things better for people and the environment… Though we have come a long way from previous generations, we still have a long way to go to futureproof our workforce.’

If you'd like to learn more about 'Resilience, Flexibility and Agility in the Creative Industries,' please join us this Thursday for a panel discussion with some key industry specialists. Please contact [email protected] 

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