THE FLEXI BUSINESS OWNER
Paul Clarke, 35, Warwick
OWNER OF MR AND MRS CLARKE, ESTATE AGENT; MRANDMRSCLARKE. COM HOURS PER WEEK: 25-100
The idea for the business came when my wife and I were buying and selling a house. We couldn’t believe how rubbish estate agents were and thought we could do better. From the start it made sense to work flexibly. People want to look around houses at evenings and weekends – not nine to five.
So it’s important that we have a flexible team, too. We have six selfemployed agents who cover a patch each, a concierge team who man the phones, who are all mothers, and our sales director, who is doing up a house and so appreciates being able to do bits of that in the day, and work when clients need him. We also have a non-exec director who has just left corporate life. He has older children who he can now take to school and a two-year-old who he can spend more time with.
He says that he feels like a better father and he loves it. Personally, I feel lucky to have a child and I want to spend as much time as possible with her – while growing our family business. sibilities meant she should be paid more. The employer agreed.”
Many find that “once you release the shackles of the office, there’s less structure around work” according to Anna Whitehouse, who along with her husband, campaigns against the prejudice around parents who want to work flexibly. “People want to prove they are loyal, can be trusted, and that they are good at their job,” she says. And that means they often end up working more than they might have done when they were entirely office based. She has found this herself, working 60-plus hours a week. “It’s caused me mental health issues and strains on my relationship, but it’s because this is such a new way of working and we collectively haven’t figured it all out yet.”
Gannon says she has been (and still can be) guilty of overworking, too, but now sets core hours – 10am-4pm, with some home-office days, others set up for external meetings. “These aren’t set rules, but it does help me roughly structure my week,” she says. And, she adds: “I don’t do everything myself.” This means outsourcing admin to a virtual assistant (try virtalent.com), using apps that automate invoices and payments (try quickbooks.intuit.com) and project management ( Trello.com). She also recommends dealing with emails in chunks, using the app Boomerang. “You can line them all up and schedule them, rather than replying as they come in. That’s such a time waster.”
But while it may be possible to do everything virtually, it’s not always desirable. “You absolutely need to get out and meet people,” Gannon says. “Sometimes a phone call or Skype conversation will d do; other times you need face-to-face meetings me with contacts, or other professio professionals in your industry.”
Find a like-m like-minded group on a site such as meetup.com meet or FuturegirlCorp, or work in a co-working space, such as andco.life, andco.l which lets you hotdesk in partiti partitioned-off areas in local cafés and bars (without you being hassled to buy con continuous cups of coffee).
You could ev even kill two flexi-worker problems with one stone and sign up for a class. Apparently Ap 25 per cent of flexible workers worke out of the office feel they miss out on opportunities such as training, so look at sites such a as generalassemb.ly and digital digitalmums.com to brush up skills a and make contacts.
But don’t forget the reason you w wanted to work flexibly in th the first place: to find great greater life balance – whatever that means to you. “Thi “This idea that we all need to w work every hour or every day is wrong,” Ridout says. “Ac “Actually, we all need to wo work a lot less.”