Flexible Working - Making it Work at Amiqus
We chatted to Richie Stewart, Head of People from Amiqus ID, to get an understanding from him how this tech business is maximising a flexible working approach.
What sort of flexible working policy do you have at Amiqus and when did you introduce it?
We have a truly flexible working culture, so much so that we often don’t realise how radical it is, because, at Amiqus, we’ve always considered it common sense efficiency.
Approximately 30% of our team work remotely full time, while a number of other team members work remotely 2 or 3 days a week. We all manage our own time and hours. No one is looking over anybody’s shoulder and it works really well. If someone decides to head home early one day or to switch their Monday to a Tuesday; if someone’s child is unwell or they feel they need to work from home to meet a certain deadline, we don’t ask them to seek permission or make excuses. We all contribute to a mature, considerate and supportive working environment; acknowledging that we’re all adults, we’re all working hard, but there’s more to life than work.
How have you managed to maintain your company culture with remote working and flexible hours?
Our commitment to flexibility is a big part of what makes our company culture, because offering flexibility is about a whole lot more than where or which days a person chooses to work. It starts with how the people at the top interact with everyone else.
If you put a flexible policy in place, but then talk or act in a contradictory fashion, as a manager, you’re effectively revoking everyone else’s permissions to make use of that policy.
We also hold all our company-wide meetings using video conferencing and then make the video of the meetings available to those who work part time. Everyone dials in from their own computer, so whether you are in the office or working remotely, you get the same experience.
Another initiative we have introduced over the last 6 months is a bi-weekly coffee break. People are matched with a colleague. Within a two week period they have a 20-30 minute call to chat. The only rule we have is that you should not talk about work. We introduced this at the suggestion of one of our remote workers who felt they were missing out on the office chit chat and was keen to build relationships with their colleagues. It has been very well received across the business.
What about your duty of care to your employees, is this an issue?
Whether someone works in the office or in another country, we check in with them every month and then in person during our all hands meetings, which everyone attends twice a year. We hope everyone on the team feels comfortable expressing when they’re facing a problem, at work or otherwise.
We don’t view finding a solution to a problem as a burden: sometimes you have to have hard conversations and listen to an employee to know how you can improve practices and opportunities for everyone in the future.
We also give all our team a development day each month. The idea is for everyone to take a day away from work to focus on themselves, whether that is career-focused, academic or health-related. We don’t put too many boundaries on it. The only thing we ask is that they discuss it with their managers during their monthly catch-ups.
How have these policies been received by your staff?
Overall I would say very well. In the last employee survey we did in September 2019 Amiqus scored 94% for the statement “I enjoy working for amiqus” and 95% for “I am proud of the company culture”, so it does feel like we are getting things right. I think it’s important not to become complacent though. Maintaining our flexible working culture as we continue to grow will take a great deal of work and probably some experimentation, but we know it will be worth it.
How have the policies impacted on the performance of the business?
By putting trust in our people, to work when and where they want, to managing their own workloads and to organise their own personal development, I believe we see a higher level of performance and engagement than average, as reflected in our employee surveys. Does this mean that everyone is happy and content about everything all of the time? Of course not, but creating an environment in which people feel trusted to do their work and happy to raise concerns about their work can only be beneficial to a company.
What is next in terms of flexible working?
I think in the private sector generally you’re going to see a shift towards the four day week and more people having a dedicated office in their homes, as well as more people working in a combination of roles which will demand flexibility.
I also think we’re going to see greater use of unpaid parental leave and a higher demand for career breaks or sabbaticals, particularly for those going through hard times in their lives, but also for people who simply want to make the most out of life.
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