When I joined CHC nearly two years ago, I knew I was joining a ‘different’ kind of agency.
Not only were we small (well only two full time members of staff at the time), but the way we worked was different. Before I arrived, on the whole, the company operated virtually, using a network of freelance senior consultants working from home, across the country. Just before I started, Jeremy began renting office space in Euston which meant as we continued to grow, the team and our clients had a place to meet more regularly – a central hub.
As CHC has grown, so has the full-time team, meaning our central London hub has moved to Farringdon where we have more space for our expanding team. With a full-time team nearly into double figures, we still work to maintain the ‘virtual’ network from which the company was started. This not only means we work with some of the most talented people in the industry, but it also allows us to offer our clients the best service we possibly can, pulling in specialists as and when we need them, as well as working with more senior consultants who commit time every week to CHC.
Flexibility is reflected in everyday life at CHC and is an important attribute to a modern, London-based company. But, according to a Timewise survey reported in The Guardian last year, fewer than one in 10 decently paid job vacancies in the UK mention flexible working options, meaning employers are failing to attract the best workers. The way that CHC is set-up allows us to work from wherever we are, gaining access to all the files and systems we use – meaning that for some of us living further away from London, or with commitments at home, we can effectively work remotely. All members of the team are offered flexibility to work around core business hours, allowing us to start early and leave early or vice versa depending on how we choose to work (don’t get me wrong, when things are extremely busy we adapt our schedules and stay late to support each other).
Many agencies do try to offer this flexibility, but I genuinely believe that because of the way CHC started, this adaptable way of working is engrained in our company DNA. I love my job, the work we do and the excitement of working for such a new and growing agency. But like many women in this industry, I have reached a time in my life where I am about to start a family and in doing so, will have to make choices about how to make work, work. So having flexibility built into the way the CHC team works, is very important to me and others in the company in finding the right work/life balance.
That’s not to say that flexibility should just benefit women. Although it is worth bearing in mind that this industry is dominated by us. But across all types of business, more companies should take a similar forward-thinking approach to get the best out of all of its workers, and to hang on to women as they move through life’s milestones – not just move to a more child-friendly work option when they get to that stage.
This is particularly important when employees reach a senior level. Many agencies are staffed almost entirely by under 35s. Dismissing flexible working means we could lose all of the precious experience from more senior colleagues. Furthermore, I believe flexibility motivates us to work harder and do a good job because we are trusted to make the way we approach our jobs, work for the company and for ourselves.
Ultimately if we have happy staff, we have a happy company.