on allowing good people to work where and when they work best

There seems to be a movement in the marketing community towards better work-life balance. Whether it’s Chime’s Amelia Torode championing flexible and part-time working for Mums or what seems to be a massive increase in senior staff switching to freelance, it feels like the traditional 10+ hours, 5+ days a week agency model is under threat / thankfully in decline (depending on your viewpoint).

If as an employer you limit your recruitment options to people who are willing and able to spend fifty hours a week based in a city centre office with commuting time on top of that, then you probably exclude half the potential candidates. The agency burn-out rate is scary. And no-one produces their best work when they’re stressed, knackered and worried about who is going to let the plumber in at home.

But to be fair I have seen the flexible model falter, from the Mums who leave at 5pm on the dot for nursery pickup dumping that day’s crisis on the nearest childless person’s desk as they exit, to the part-timers whose absence holds up the progress of projects. And I was gobsmacked at the civil servant who once cheerfully told me that working from home on Fridays was brilliant because she got all her washing done.

On balance I still think that there’s room for the creative industries to be more flexible about both start times and the need to always be in the office, a place which often isn’t actually that conducive to concentrating. Perhaps ‘core’ hours are the way forward, a designated part of the day/week when everyone (even freelancers!) is required to be around and available to collaborate, leaving the rest of the week to be taken up with solo work and out-of-work time.  I’ve seen it work at some agencies round my way and it would certainly work better for so many talented women I know.



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