Brad Crouch was convinced to join satellite comms firm Inmarsat by its family friendly culture. That became crucial when coronavirus struck
Inmarsat is a company that is all about communication. The global firm is headquartered in London. But their reach goes even further. Their fleet of space satellites provide connectivity where normally there would be none – on ships, aeroplanes and remote areas on Earth.
Communication is key to the firm’s approach to flexible family friendly working too. And it’s served them particularly well through the last 14 months of pandemic.
Brad Crouch is a Resourcing Business Partner at the company. He joined four years ago, attracted by the opportunity to get involved with Inmarsat’s efforts to evolve the company culture. The firm was beginning to really embrace a more flexible approach to work and it was only a few months later he would be making the most of that new approach himself when he started working flexibly.
The professional became the personal for dad-of-two Brad.
He explained, “I joined because I could see the journey Inmarsat was on. After about six months of starting at Inmarsat my partner went back to work part-time and it was my turn to step up on the childcare.
“I had a conversation with my manager to request a change in my working pattern so that three days a week I could do the school pick ups and drop offs, which at the time felt like a massive change to me.” The reaction I received showed what a healthy culture was already embedded at Inmarsat. My manager was fully accommodating of my request and said it was perfectly fine to do what was needed to support my young family”.
But Brad admits that going flexible was not an entirely smooth process. The sticking points came not from line managers or company culture, but from his own expectations around work and fatherhood. “I struggled at first. It took me a while to get comfortable with flexible working because I felt I was cheating my employers in that time I was walking the children to nursery or school instead of being in the office.” However he soon came to realise that not only did the work still get done but without the stress of work and family life butting up against each other he could work even more productively.
Now Brad’s kids are both in school, Henry is 10 and Rosie is aged four and in her Reception year. Brad works full time but he may start a bit later than he typically would on days where he drops his children at school. Or he may take time out to attend a school event. (Or at least he did in the days when parents attended school assemblies and such like). He added, “If the sun is shining I might take the kids to the park after school for half an hour quality time. I’ll make that time up later in the day or at another time. We’re about measuring outputs not the number of hours someone is at a desk.”
Key to making a success of that approach is trust. And that makes him a better employee. “I’m grateful that they let me do those drop off and pick ups, that they let me have that time with my kids creating those memories. They trust and respect me and I trust and respect them. That makes me want to do more for the company.”
Trust, respect, flexibility and communication meant Inmarsat was as well set as anyone could be to cope with the disruptions that have beset business since last spring.
“The company handled it fantastically,” says Brad. “They made a conscious effort to acknowledge how tough it’s been for everyone.”
Management made it clear they were on their employees’ side. That meant regular check ins from line managers and clear communication from the Executive Team. And a clear understanding that it’s OK not to be OK when life is turned upside down by a global pandemic.
Employees were encouraged to do what they needed to do to get themselves and their family through the crisis. “If you needed some hours to do homeschooling that was fine,” adds Brad. “If you needed to go offline and take a walk that was fine too. They were clear that we were in uncharted territory and it was more than OK to focus on your family. In fact the company helped out with homeschool. Employees with the time to do so put on classes and webinars on science, engineering and whatever other expertise they could share. That gave homeschool pupils something different to look forward to and alleviated a little bit of the pressure from frazzled dads and mums.”
The whole experience helps Brad in his recruitment role. “When I’m asked what it’s like at Inmarsat I can give my first hand experience,” he says.
“Working from home, flexible hours, smart working – these aren’t just buzzwords for me or for the company. We want people to bring their whole selves to work and we want to attract the best talent. Outputs improve that way.”