Flexible working at the FT
What does it look like? We ask three of our colleagues..
“Taking a whole day out is the approach that really gives me some headspace for my life outside work.”
- Bryony Rochester, head of business analysis
Flexible working pattern: Compressed hours — I work a nine-day fortnight, working my contracted hours over nine days rather than 10.
I started flexible working as a six month trial during 2018 after a visit to my brother who talked about a similar arrangement he has. It was working really well for him and it sounded exactly what I wanted to do.
I live outside London and travel at times to avoid rush hour, this means I’m normally in early and leave late. I find these quiet times in the office before the day really begins great thinking time and didn’t want to change my travel routine.
It took a while for my thought process to adjust so that I didn’t work even longer hours during my four day week, I found informally keeping track of my hours helps here. There have been a couple of times where I’ve moved my day off because I’ve been needed in the office, but I’m relaxed about this.
One day out a fortnight might not sound like a lot, but for me it makes a massive difference. I wanted a whole day of time, rather than finishing early for example, as I find it easier to switch off if I don’t start! I also find a three day weekend to be disproportionately more relaxing than just one extra day would suggest. I’m using the time for personal study, such as canine anatomy as I’m training to be a confirmation judge and to fulfil my aspiration to speak another language. It’s not all about the books, I’ve also taken up tennis again and am working on my serve.
My advice to someone thinking about working flexibly would be to think about what you want to get out of it. Having so many options available at the FT is definitely an advantage.
“On the days where I come into work later, I drop my eldest daughter to school, so there is important bonding time with her that I would otherwise miss out on.”
- Toby Bridgham, head of end user services and support
Flexible working pattern: Adjusted hours — starts and leaves early two days a week, starts and leaves late two days a week.
“Commuting from outside of London and managing childcare has meant that I needed to juggle my working commitments. Currently, I start and leave work slightly earlier on Monday and Thursdays and on Tuesday and Wednesdays, I come in and stay later. My wife covers the opposing mornings and evenings.
“Before we had this setup, our first child went to nursery. The days for her were much longer (7.30am-6.30pm) and that exaggerated all of the usual guilt and stress that any parent has when leaving their children with someone else. We’re lucky that we now have dedicated childcare for both of our children but we have only been able to achieve this by reducing the hours of cover which has only been possible through flexible working.
“There are of course some challenges, but not many. The obvious one is when there are meetings early or late that I can’t make. Also, full days away or work travel is challenging, but luckily I have a wife (and her work) who also understands the importance of flexible working, so I can work around them, it just requires a little planning!
“The other challenge is the guilt you feel when you grab your bag and head out of the office at 4pm! It’s irrational as no-one is judging you, so you just need to change your own mindset that it doesn’t matter. I know I cover my work, so there is no need to be guilty.
“The FT has been very supportive. I’ve worked here for over seven years now and in that time, I’ve built a relationship of trust with the organisation. They know I will get the work done wherever I’m working or whatever hours I do. I’ve also worked with some great managers who have families themselves and understand the challenges they bring.
“There are obvious benefits for some people to have structure when it comes to working patterns. Even for me I can see the appeal in working core hours and switching off outside of those. However that kind of structure isn’t for everyone, especially if you have commitments that conflict with the working pattern. For those people flexible working is essential.
“I would say to anyone thinking about it, just remember that it’s a two-way relationship for both you and the business to be flexible.”
“I feel incredibly lucky to have the extra time to pursue something I’m really passionate about.”
- Lucy Butler, director of analytics
Flexible working pattern: Works a four day week.
“It’s really important for me to have a creative outlet. When I’m not in work, I write songs and play music, and having the extra day gives me time I can dedicate to this. I can’t tell you how much I value having time to be creative when my brain is fresh and I don’t have other pulls on my time”.
“My biggest challenge has actually been myself. I often end up doing odds and ends on my days off to catch up but I’m trying to be stricter with this and there isn’t any pressure from the business to do more.”
“The FT has been really supportive and it was one of the many reasons I chose to join. When I was looking for a new job, a four-day working week was a ‘must have’ — as I was lucky enough to have it in my previous role. I’d been approached about a few interesting roles but the companies weren’t that open to the idea. The FT in contrast has been behind me from the get-go, it’s a message that the company cares about people and trusts them to get the best out of themselves”.
“To anyone who is thinking of working flexibly, I would thoroughly encourage you to do so. It doesn’t necessarily mean working fewer hours, if you’re a morning person, but your brain tends to stop firing on all cylinders after 4pm, it may better for you and the business if you move to an earlier working pattern! I don’t think we should underestimate the value of flexing our working patterns to maximise our personal productivity.”
Here at the FT, we want to create an inclusive environment and that’s why we’re advocating flexibility in the way our staff work as an option for everyone. Regardless of role, department, location and no matter how long you’ve worked at the FT, your age or your gender — working flexibly is open to you. If you like the idea of working flexibly with us, check out our open roles and apply today.