Flexible working hours, unlimited leave, remote working: Not a pipedream, a reality
When the UK government directed those who could to work from home in the first quarter of 2020, many thought this was a temporary measure. It seemed, at the time, inconceivable to think that some would be saying goodbye to traditional nine-to-five working structures.
Fast forward to nearly two years later and remote, flexible working, and out-of-hours contact are all hot topics.
The changes to working structures has brought into question many policies in place before. It is giving employees the opportunity to choose their working life balance, with more emphasis on useful working structures that inspire productivity rather than demanding it.
While some companies have returned to something that resembles what they had before, others have changed completely. Some companies, including UK banks, have adopted a four-day working policy. Hybrid working is more common and in many cases a requirement. Ve Global has been a fully remote company since the beginning of the pandemic.
Making policies in the grey area
Moving to a fully remote business, we had to figure out how we could protect both the business objectives as well as our employee’s time. With so much emphasis on traditional management and hours no longer suiting employees in a remote working structure, policies needed to change.
We have introduced and written into policy a flexible working hours policy. This allows our teams to choose their own working structure. Ensuring our teams can work flexibly is extremely important to us as we understand that they have lives outside the figurative four walls of the company.
Life must continue outside of a job, whether that be a medical appointment, parenting, hobbies, exercise, or family time for instance. We encourage our teams to work to a schedule that suits them as it promotes a healthy work/life balance and reduces stress and burnout. We also believe our new policies strike the right balance of flexibility while ensuring that the company’s operations remain moving forward.
Why flexibility is important
Flexibility is a central part of Ve’s working culture. As a fully remote business, we encourage all our employees to embrace the freedoms that come with working from home with our ‘it’s ok in Ve to…’ guidelines. These look to move away from rigid rules on what employees can and can’t do, and towards an open operating culture determined by the individual.
To take a few examples, we know it’s ok in Ve to block out time for childcare or to pick up children from school during work hours. And we also know it’s ok in Ve to choose when and where they work to make up a 37.5hr working week. We do have core hours that we expect everyone to be “in the office”. This is just a little structure to ensure continuity of business and falls within 10am-12pm and 2pm-4:30pm.
Each employee is an individual, with their own responsibilities both in and outside of work, and it’s time employers start to recognise them as such.
For many, the change to remote working has been a good change to many who have found more time in the day without a commute. However, we don’t believe it should be on the employee to get themselves set up to work from home.
One of the policies we created as to make each employee could be sitting comfortable in their home office. The policy aims to help them build an office set up at their home at no expense to them. Having the correct set up will ensure a reduction in aches and pains associated with a poor desk set up.
While remote working is the main way we conduct business, employees also have WeWork All Access passes for the team in London and office facilities in other locations that employees. This is helpful for meetings, team days and just to get our teams out of the house occasionally.
Unlimited leave – yes, it’s a thing
Some of the most notable household names in the world have instituted unlimited leave policies in their business. Netflix, LinkedIn, Evernote, Visualsoft are among the brands who to try out the idea that employees are the entrusted with us much as leave as they need to take off.
Given our emphasis on employee freedoms, the unlimited holiday policy has been central to our wellness strategy. Granting employees as much holiday as they need whenever they feel they need it means that a multitude of additional wellbeing policies aren’t necessarily needed.
For example, should they want a spontaneous long weekend, they can take the day off. Should they have a last-minute appointment, they can take the day off. And should they fancy booking a yoga class, they can take the day off for that too. We’re aware that unlimited holiday doesn’t cover everything and we’re doing all we can to ensure our wellbeing approach is as broad and far-reaching as possible.
One of the lessons from most companies with unlimited leave policies is that employees often don’t take off the as much leave as they would with an annual leave policy. We have kept the minimum required leave days of the old policies to ensure our teams take off some time. As committed as our team members are, we want to do our best to encourage that they don’t burn out.
In some ways Ve is still in a trial period, testing different approaches to see what works best for both the company and our people. But one thing this pandemic has taught us as a business is that the resilience and well-being of our people will always be a key driver for our working policies. Not only does it inspire creativity and productivity, it builds a happier, more successful business.