It’s the question bound to bring forth strong opinions: should home workers be paid...read more
Robert Moore’s job with Schneider Electric means he has colleagues spread over the globe. But flexible working means he can focus on what’s important at work and at home.
Focus, efficiency, perspective. All things employers ought to be looking for in their workforce.
And all things that Robert Moore reckons he’s gained thanks to flexible working.
Robert’s a senior financial analyst with Schneider Electric. And father to two children, Emily aged three and Sam who is nearly two.
When son Sam had his tonsils out last month flexible working came into its own. “I couldn’t imagine going into work while he was recuperating,” says Robert. “As well as being around for him, being able to work from home meant my daughter didn’t feel neglected either.”
Robert’s part of a team spread over a number of different time zones. His boss is in Boston. He’s colleagues in Denmark, India and France.
Working flexibly means he can check in with India before breakfast and catch up with American counterparts in the evening. But crucially he has the time late afternoon to collect his kids from childcare and spend time with them before putting them to bed.
“The nature of the job means I can’t always finish for the day and be out of contact. But my boss knows that those hours in the evening are important for me. If something urgent comes up she’ll text me and maybe I’ll deal with it later in the evening once the children are asleep.” That’s an example of how communication is key to making flexible working a success. “Once you explain how you work and set expectations then no-one cares, as long as the work gets done.
“If your boss expects you to be available 8am-4pm but you have to go pick up the kids there’s a misalignment there. That’s where problems can arise.
“But my boss isn’t checking up on my hours. That’s not important to her. What is important is that she knows that if she asks a question I’ll know the answer.”
And successful flexible working is about all sides being flexible. Sometimes meetings have to take place at nursery pick up time. “I’ve taken calls in the creche car park,” laughs Robert. “As long as I’ve a laptop and a hotspot on my phone it doesn’t matter to the other people in the meeting. They’ve no idea where I am and it doesn’t impact on the content of what I’m saying or doing.”
Robert combines working from home as necessary with time in Schneider’s Galway office. “If you don’t go into the office at all you lose the contacts and the context,” he explains. “You might know what’s going on but you won’t know what’s coming next.”
He admits it’s been tricky switching to such a flexible role when he’s previously worked set hours. But the benefits have been huge.
“I’m more productive,” he states. “I’m more conscientious. I’m more efficient because I know what’s essential and urgent and what’s not.
“In the past I might have spent a couple of hours polishing a presentation trying to make it perfect. Now I’ve got to pick the kids up so I’m more focussed. If I spend two hours on that presentation it might be improved incrementally. But I can cover more ground, add more value, if I try to get something really good but it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
And that focus carries over into his life as a parent too. “I could’ve spent an extra 20 minutes trying to convince my daughter to get dressed herself this morning. But that would not have been a good use of my time,” he smiles.