As the workplace continues to shift to a more decentralised setting and remote work begins to take the forefront of conversations, more and more employers are beginning to realise the positive impact of flexible working practices.
According to Buffer’s Remote Workers Study, which has a fully distributed team of 82 people living and working in 15 countries around the world, some of the top benefits for remote work include: flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, no commute, family time, and more.
Balance the Grind spoke to 21 people, ranging from marketing directors to software engineers to startup founders, about how remote and flexible working practices have benefited their work-life balance.
Chris Coyier // website designer and developer, as well as the co-founder of CodePen, a social development environment for front end designers and developers.
CodePen is a fully remote team. Most people work from home. I think I might be the lone person right now who goes into an office. I do that partially because I like it and partially because we have a 2 year old daughter at home and it’s easier to focus on work if I’m out of the house.
I don’t think I’d ever go back to a big shared office again. I’m fairly introverted so I’m happiest with a heaping helping of alone time.
Ngaire Moyes // Senior Director, Brand Marketing and Communications at LinkedIn, where she is responsible for building the brand and protecting its reputation across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America
I am fortunate to work for a company that is very flexible. I work from home two days per week when I’m in London. I have a very long commute and being able to avoid that for two days of the week has an enormously positive impact on both my work and my family life.
It gives me back at least 3 hours in the day which means that the atmosphere at home and our family lives are just that more relaxed and less hectic. I do a lot of my meetings over video conference to places across the world so if doesn’t really matter where I am located. I also find I get more work done and generally work longer hours on the days I’m at home.
Om Suthar // Director Of User Experience at higher education software company Ellucian, as well as the founder and CEO of startup SQRL.
I’m quite fortunate my ‘day job’ allows me to work from home at the moment and it’s quite wonderful- all things considered. The time spent commuting has been reinvested into family time, which I can’t get enough of. I will say the new challenge is building and keeping a routine so you can switch gears between roles without losing your mind.
Amy McClelland // Growth Manager for Channel 4’s streaming platform, All 4, where she is responsible for user platform and comms strategy in order to increase customer retention.
What’s very weird about my life in London is that it exists solely in quarantine. I had about 3 weeks in the Channel 4 office before we were sent home indefinitely.
Having said that, my organisation is very forward-thinking and has a really employee-first attitude when it comes to maximising their happiness and productivity.
In a non-COVID world I’d be working from home once a week, which is a great way to get life admin done, but also just re-centre my priorities for that week.
I find that my physical environment has a major impact on my productivity. I do a wider range of work in the office, but I focus on my priorities at home.
From a mental health perspective I’m an advocate for companies that have a work from home policy.
I don’t think we live in a time where the strict 9-5 hours can get the best out of people – especially in product development! We do our best work when we’re able to stretch our legs.
Ryan McKergow // Group Manager for Queensland at management consultancy Elabor8, where he is responsible for the overall operations & growth of our Queensland office
I’m very fortunate in my role as the Group Manager – Queensland that I’m able to define my hours and when I work from home.
I start early (around 7:30am) and finish early (around 3:30pm) so I can both beat the traffic, but also get home to my young family for dinner time and bed time. I generally WFH 1 day a week to avoid the commute and be able to spend more time with my family.
Recently, I was working from home 3 days per week in the lead up and after the birth of our 3rd daughter. This was very helpful to be around for my family.
Talia Lapidus // Director, Content at Audioboom, a platform for hosting, distributing and monetizing podcasts, where she works on talent management and development within podcasting across Audioboom’s network in both London and New York
I can work remotely if I need to, but generally I’m in the office 5 days a week, as are the rest of the Audioboom team.
A lot of my work involves emails and calls, but I do have in-person meetings too, so being in the office makes the most sense. I love the people I work with so that makes a world of difference. I exercise in the morning, spend the day at work and socialise in the evening, and this schedule works for me. I like a routine!
My workplace is flexible if I do need to work from home, and I think more companies are coming to the realisation that certain members of staff don’t physically need to be in the office all the time.
Lily Hargreaves // eCommerce Manager at frank green, a lifestyle company offering sustainable products, where she is responsible for growing the brand’s global shopfronts
One of the hardest things about working remotely from home is the blurring of the divide between being at work and being at home. When you can see your desk from the living room it becomes all too easy to reply to ‘just one more email’.
The best solutions I have implemented to help set boundaries have been making sure that all work is done from my desk in the office. I definitely gave in to the temptation of working from the couch a couple of hours a day for the first few weeks of remote working, but quickly realised I was creating habits where it was all too easy to continue working on the couch in the evening.
The next solution I implemented was to head out to the gym or take a walk at the end of each working day, something to create a clear divide between the end of my workday and the start of my evening.
Amy Malpass Hahn // Editor In Chief at The Grace Tales, an online destination and community for style-conscious mothers which covers motherhood, fashion, beauty, interiors, travel, food and more
I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company that is dedicated to motherhood, and so offers all the flexibility I could ask for. I work from home whenever I need to, often bring my youngest Henry to the office, have been known to breastfeed throughout meetings, and will often work in the evenings so I can be at the school gate.
I’m of the firm belief that work is about outcomes and not hours, and thankfully I’ve found a company that walks the talk.
Samantha Dargan // Marketing Manager at Australia’s leading network of professional psychology practices, Life Resolutions, managing all marketing and communications projects
I am fortunate enough to have a flexible working arrangement in my current role at Life Resolutions and have the ability to work 2 days a week from home. Working for a company that supports mental health, we pride ourselves on looking after our own also with healthy work-life balance working arrangements.
This does help me and fits in with my life and routine as I can achieve great work, not only by working in my own environment but I can also plan my week in advance to ensure I can still have a healthy life outside of work.
Ashik Ahmed // CEO and co-founder of Deputy, a homegrown workforce management solution pegged to be Australia’s next tech unicorn
The way we all work has transformed dramatically. Previously, employees would clock in at 9 am then head home at 5 pm on the dot and this was a standard day for them. Now, though, businesses and workers around the world are moving towards flexible, hourly-based work.
At Deputy, we believe every worker should be given the opportunity to choose how they want to work and the evolution of the workforce has helped to support this.
Alex Delehunt // People & Culture Business Partner at Publicis Groupe, a global technology, marketing and communications agency, where she leads the people function for the agencies Performics and Digitas
This is one of the best things about working at Publicis Groupe, we have a whole approach to work that is based around flexibility. It’s all about working your way, with the company.
For me, this means that I work one day a week from home and that day might vary. I also try to head to the gym most lunchtimes when in the office which might mean I take a slightly longer lunch break.
For other people; they might do different hours or we have people who work remotely permanent. We’re all individuals so it makes sense not to have a one size fits all policy. Instead we have six behaviours that underpin our approach and the most important I believe is ‘Trust One Another’.
David Lloyd-Lewis // Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at TheStoryBoxes, an award winning production studio dedicated to social impact and behaviour change
We’re output-focussed rather than clock-watchers. We established this very early in the company’s culture. As a group of creative people our best work doesn’t often happen between the hours and 9-5 so having the flexibility to do our best collective work has to be a priority. There are obviously times when we need to be in the studio at the same time but generally we’ll use good judgement and do what’s best for the work.
Callum Eade // VP & Managing Director APJ of enterprise-level data platform Commvault, where he is responsible for the business across Australia and New Zealand, ASEAN, Greater China, India, Japan and Korea
Being a road warrior comes with an APJ role, so working remote – from airport lounge to hotel and even in a cab is the norm.
Technology has made remote working anywhere, anytime so seamless that working remote is part and parcel of everyone’s life. I use the ability to work while travelling for the purpose of increasing more face time with customers, partners and my geographically dispersed teams.
Speaking and engaging in person wherever possible is critical to develop trust, understanding and productive relationships. From a personal perspective, flexible working enables me to get what I need to do done and still spend time in the water training for my seven seas challenge.
Katie Walmsley // Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer at Australian start-up BenchOn, a business only sharing economy platform
My role definitely allows for flexible or remote working, as a company we value the job getting done not how many hours you work.
This is important to me as a business owner to still be able to be present for my children, I am able to be at most things that are important and I am more than happy to commit other time whether it be late at night or early morning to ensure I have all of my responsibilities completed on time.
Monica Watt // Chief Human Resources Officer at ELMO Software, which offers a suite of cloud HR, payroll and rostering, time & attendance software solutions
In 2020, I am moving towards working from home one day a week, where possible. Flexibility has become a norm in the workplace, and I believe it should be open to everyone. It’s important to note that each team member is unique and they require different levels of engagement.
As a leader, I’ve found you need to walk the walk and demonstrate that the place won’t fall apart if somebody finishes early one day, or has to work from home to make the afternoon school pick up.
It’s about trust and allowing yourself (and your employees) to be autonomous. As long as their objectives and clients’ needs are being met, my team can work from Mars for all I care!
Jamie Finnegan // Global Head of Talent at Finder, an Australian comparison website, where he is responsible for hiring across the globe, including the United States, United Kingdom, and more
At Finder, it’s not about the hours you work but the results you produce. The flexibility at Finder is second to none; it’s part of our business ethos and it’s accepted that you don’t always need to be physically at your desk to be effective in your role.
The global nature of my role often requires flexible hours and depending on my schedule I’ll start earlier or later based on the country meetings I have scheduled (such as with the US or Canada).
I typically work from home at least a couple of days each month, which helps me put a laser focus on a particular task. The crew are often encouraged to work remotely, and in the past, I’ve worked from New York while still remaining connected with the Australian crew in the evenings.
Amelia Ward // Head of Digital, Sydney at media agency PHD, where she is responsible for managing and developing the company’s digital offering
I don’t work Mondays, and spend the day focused on my family/real life and trying to do some form of exercise – usually a swim or a bike ride. Tuesday to Friday, I start late each day after dropping my kids at school – I have one shorter day each week to take the kids to sport, and 2 longer days to catch up on those missed hours.
The best day of the week for me is a Friday when I work remotely from home. I try not to book any calls or meetings and use the time to catch up on all the work that got sidelined with each previous day’s meetings and tasks. If there is time, I will use my lunch break to go for a beach swim, but only if the water isn’t too cold!
The most important part of the equation, however, is having a partner who also benefits from flexible working arrangements so we can share the load of school pick-ups and sick kids.
Jaclyn Majarich // Employer Brand Manager at Optus, where she manages the national employer brand strategy to attract top talent to the company
I work from home one day a week, usually Wednesdays. I absolutely love it.
It’s a day to myself where I can have minimal distractions and I usually use it as a day to catch up on projects that need extra focus on. It also means I get to spend the day with my dog Lily. At lunch, I take her for a walk and it’s just really nice having my little buddy with me.
When I am in the office, my start and finish times also vary depending on meetings, workload, etc. I’m given the autonomy to work hours that suit me, as long as the job gets done.
Liz Ross // Commercial Marketing Program Manager at Microsoft Australia where she works with the team to develop integrated marketing programs
Microsoft is super flexible – we have all the tools at our fingertips that allow us to work remotely with immense ease.
For those members of my team based in Sydney, we aim to be in at Head Office in North Ryde on most Mondays and Wednesdays and then there is usually a mix of days spent in the CBD offices or working from the home office.
Each week is different to the next and depends on what you have on in terms of meetings. Sometimes it is nice to work in solitary at home when you have a project you really want to get your teeth into – conversely, some projects are heavily collaborative and being in the office with your colleagues really accelerates the progress.
Amanda Grainger // Business Development Director at Kate & Co Publicity and Events, an independent public relations and creative ideas agency
I returned to the Kate & Co. business after having my second daughter in late 2018. My role is currently part-time which allows me to juggle my work and family life, and I also work from home at times too.
My Director, Kate Keane, has been an incredible support and has made my return to work post maternity leave so smooth, which I know many new mum’s find tough. I’m very lucky.
Kate has created an environment of autonomy and trust at our agency, which not only breeds loyalty but gives our team flexibility and balance.
We work hard but we’re certainly rewarded –regular team yoga, birthday leave, personal days, flexi summer hours and personal development opportunities, team days/activities etc.
Sarah Goff-Dupont // Principal Writer at Atlassian, a leading provider of collaboration, development, and issue tracking software for teams
I work remotely from my home in Minnesota full-time, with trips to our San Francisco office 3-4 times a year. I absolutely love the remote work lifestyle – especially after 17 years in the hustle-bustle of San Francisco and Oakland!
No commute means mornings at our house are super chill, whereas before, we were like drill sergeants trying to get the kids to hurry up and brush their teeth so Mom and Dad don’t miss their train.
Going remote was a massive win for work-life balance.
The quiet environment is great for writing, too. But I never feel cut off from my team, thanks to Slack and video conferencing – I’m the queen of impromptu 2-minute video chats.
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