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The advisory SME engages with other companies who are looking to the future – so what does he see?
Bobby Lane is the Chief Executive Officer at Factotum, who work with businesses by providing a mix of support including HR, IT, marketing and more. We asked him about running his company and about how he sees flexible working moving forward.
After building and selling a previous business in the accountancy outsourcing sector I had a vision to take my model one step further. I wanted to offer something unique to owner-managed businesses that had never been done before. It was a dream to bring together all of the most talented individuals that I had worked with in my career into one practice to work together.
The days of the 9-5 are over. Starting a business during the pandemic meant weekends merged into weeks and evenings were no longer sacred. Historically this may have been unacceptable but the flexibility of being able to work as and when was appropriate and still have the right time for my family has been a real bonus. When a client is faced with a challenging situation it is normally outside of office hours so my working hours are driven by when I am needed but also when it suits me.
It is very simple – if a business is not offering flexibility they will seriously reduce the size of the talent pool available. The largest experiment in home-working driven by the pandemic has shown that remote working can be successful, so employees are looking for an open-minded and flexible approach from their next employer. However, hybrid working practices must come with a health warning as business owners will still need to identify the ways to develop the culture, train new employees and encourage team-building.
In a fast growth business the key is to make sure that you build a team that are passionate, excited by the vision and want to be part of the journey. Not hiring people where they were just looking for a job but wanted to make a difference has been the key. Also allowing the team to help shape the strategy and to try new things has helped them to feel engaged.
Business owners are still finding their way. Over the last year many have become more comfortable about outsourcing certain services and not having all of their team onsite. In other countries you would not be surprised to see kids sitting at their parents desk or families popping in to visit during the working day. Historically, family-friendly policies have not been high on the agenda but this is changing and the businesses of the future have to realise that this is here to stay. To recruit, retain and motivate a team, business owners will have to be more understanding and develop policies to support this.
The Government are also playing catch up. Ten years of potential change was accelerated during the pandemic and business owners and the Government are now bringing in policies to support these changes. We have seen positive change in shared parental leave and it will be encouraging to parents if the 30 free hours is continued. To help further improve I would urge dads to share positive and negative case studies with local MPs to help enhance the need of flexible working in family life to be raised in Parliament.
It will be far more acceptable for working dads to take time for family. To work flexibly and create a greater balance in their life. The working week will now become seven days and could be early mornings or evenings, so the days of doing 9-5 Monday to Friday are gone for good. I also believe it is important for dads to become role models for their children and by children seeing this new way of flexible working, it will help to create a new business generation of the youth today to have a similar work ethic.