How much does your employer know about your family life? Not really meaning the nitty gritty of family relationships but more about when sports days happen, or big weekenders, or doctors’ appointments. Are you open and upfront about how you spend your time, or do you feel the need to keep the two very separate for the security of your job?
We don’t think that’s the way forward. Your life is your whole life. Work, family, socialising, hobbies – to our mind they’re inextricably linked, so keeping them separate just doesn’t make sense.
When we took on our first employee, Charles, we had to sit down and think about what kind of employer we wanted to be to be able to work out what kind of person would fit into that culture. Our ability to be present for our families when they need us is something we think our business needs to be able to sustain – not only because of the potentially urgent needs of ageing parents and young children, but also because those are fundamental elements of living a ‘whole’ life. Being able to say that you have to stay at home to look after a sick child or to handle an inset day should be met with the expectation of approval rather than reproach. Similarly, an unexpectedly wild night would be better followed by an honest request for a ‘duvet day’ than a pretend illness, but you need to know you’ll have the support of your team.
Obviously, as a client focused agency, we have to ensure client satisfaction and there are occasions when you need to really put in the hours and work into the evenings, but with good planning, a healthy relationship with your client and good team support, those should be the occasional rather than the every day. In previous agencies, I’ve felt I almost had to make excuses for leaving before 7pm because the ‘long day in the office’ culture was so celebrated. I no longer feel like working a long day is the only way to prove that I’m effective. The results speak for themselves, or they don’t, and no amount of long days for the sake of it will change that.
Possibly because we’re still a small team, the office chatter is less and we are able to be more focused and productive in our working day but we still need to connect on a human level so we organise activities both with and without our partners. Days out at conferences, sector-specific or tactically-focused, provide opportunities for extending our knowledge but also to connect as people, not just work colleagues. We’ve done yoga days, cross training and dinner dates together, and we look forward to more of that in the future in the expectation that it will bond us together to work more effectively for our clients and to enjoy our working life as a part of our ‘whole life’ .