THE FLEXI BUSI­NESS OWNER

Paul Clarke, 35, War­wick

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

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.”

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