What does flexible working really mean?

Flexible working blog header

Last month I was invited to a roundtable discussion with the Department of Business and Trade to discuss flexible working and my experiences with flexible working.

At the start of the discussion we were all invited to introduce ourselves and share what flexible meaning meant to us.  And I thought that was a great question!  At PPF we offer flexible working to all of our team, and we talk about it a lot!


The term flexible working is also spoken about in many situations.  It is also sometimes shared on job adverts as a benefit of working with a company.  However it does actually mean different things to different people.


Some see flexible working as being allowed time off to attend things like doctors appointments, school events etc, and then ‘making the time up’ another day or time.


Some see flexible working as being able to choose a shift, for example 8am to 4pm or 9am to 5pm or even 10am to 6pm.


Some see flexible working as having core hours, say 10am – 4pm and then working flexibly around these core hours choosing your own start and end time – but still doing a set amount of hours each day/week.


However – to me, none of these are true fully flexible working. 


So what does flexible working mean to me and PPF??


For me it’s being treated like an adult, setting your own schedule, doing things when works best for you.  I always say to my team – as long as deadlines are met and clients are happy then they are free to work where and when they like.  I don’t have a focus on time spent, when they do the work, just that it’s done and everyone is happy.


You also don’t need to ask for time off to visit the doctor, or watch your child in a school play, or take the dog out for a walk.  You arrange your own schedule around your needs.  


I also don’t believe you need to be seen at your desk for a certain number of hours to justify your salary!!  Presenteeism does not mean a job well done.


When I asked the PPF team what flexible working mean to them this is what one of them replied:

To me, flexible working means the freedom to breathe 💕

Previously working the 9-5 life, I felt like I was “stuck” at work but working flexible hours allows me to work early, and late, all in one shift, broken up in the day or the 9-5 if I really want to!

We are surrounded by so much pressure in this world so having time to “focus” on tasks and times when you require a short break, having a job that allows for all of this, is such a blessing. The result, productivity and joy within your workplace 💕


Now I know this does’t work for all businesses and roles, there can be elements of flexibility though I believe in all roles.  And there are many businesses where true flexible working is possible, you just need to put the ground work in to make it possible!

Where do you start?

Company values is the place to start – having a clear set of values that everyone works within will set the tone of how flexible working will work for your business.  Then you need boundaries and guidelines in place to back up what you’re trying to achieve.


For example – we focus on work completed, so we have clear internal deadlines which are ahead of legal deadlines, and deadlines as part of our processes.  This helps to ensure work is done to when we want it completed.  So clear KPIs are also required to ensure team members are producing the work they are paid to do.


Another example of this is our holiday system.  No one asks for permission for time off.  We have a policy which has clear guidelines of how many people can be off at any one time to ensure there are enough of us to assist clients and get the work completed.  So everyone knows these rules and therefore books their time off in line with these guidelines.  And if something crops up that’s outside of the guidelines then we have an adult conversation on how we can make it work, rather than asking permission!


At the end of the day for me it all boils down to trust and a mutual respect for each other, and each others time.  I trust my team and in return they trust me back and we respect each other.  And in turn the team are generally happier, healthier and more engaged and productive.


If flexible working is something you’d like to consider for your team or business then please do get in touch to see how we can help make that a reality for you!