Tuesday 24 July 2007

Flex Working

As the river near my home rises and the news reports warn of an impending surge due to arrive in the next 24-48 hours, I am testing the limits of flexible working.

My employer supports flexible working. Which is good for me. I start work early in the morning. I leave the office by 3 pm so I can do the school run. I have all the kit I need to work from home. So if the children are sick I can tuck them safely into bed and get busy. I can start work at an ungodly hour in the morning before the children are up and get the last of the email ticked off as read after they've gone to bed. And I get to spend those crucial after school hours with them to hear about their day, help with homework, get a home cooked nutritious meal on the table (most days), and participate in the bath/bed routine (well, actually my husband does that last bit but I'm on call if assistance is required).

In the past I've been able to manage 1 day/week from home but over the last couple months my schedule has prevented me from doing this. I've felt that if I had meetings in the office I would prefer to go into the office, especially since I work only 8 miles from where I live. Lately it has been the rare occasion that I have had no meetings so I've just gone into the office.

Upon my arrival at the office on Monday morning I received a phone call from the Environment Agency alerting me to the risk of flooding to my home. After ensuring that I had business continuity in place for the people who work for me, I went to my next meeting.

This was my performance appraisal scheduled with my boss. He could tell my mind wasn't in the game. He's typically not all that intuitive but it was hard to miss the signs of my hyperventilation. We agreed to reschedule so I could get home and make everything safe. I was most concerned about my "eat everything in sight" dog who was locked up in his cage in the kitchen.

I secured my property, checked out the river level, formed an evacuation plan with my child minder, caught up with the news and then set about setting up my home office.

And I've been working from there ever since. Clearly, some meetings can only be held face-to-face. I've rescheduled those for next week. But the majority of my meetings I've just dialed into. Surprisingly they have been effective and other than sporadically reminding my colleagues to speak up, we are working flexibly.

I've got one of the most geographical dispersed teams in the company. My team members work in Devon, Bournemouth, Manchester & Scotland. My boss wasn't so keen on this. He thought people that far away worked less effectively or maybe just worked less. I didn't get this and persisted in my conviction that my team were a bunch of rock stars that could set an example for the rest of the organisation.

And so we have. My business continuity plan was extremely robust strictly because we didn't all live near the flood zones. Those of us who live nearby were supported by those who didn't. Which is exactly what we needed!

I'll be watching the river rise over the next couple of days.....and working to the best of my abilities! From Home!

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