Working at Mint — A personal perspective
For over ten years Mint has practised a form of flexible working, and I think it’s one of Mint’s hidden gems. Mint hasn’t explained its flexible working practice in the past but we’re currently hiring, and articulating this to potential hires always proves difficult. So I thought now is the time to write about what it means to me. Don’t mistake me, this is my personal view of Mint’s working practise and this can mean different things to different people.
A lot of companies cite things like “work from home every other week” or “half-day Fridays” in their job ads. These are all perks if you live in a 9–5 job, but it’s not flexible working. Flexible working is about much more than allowing someone to work half a day on a Friday.
So how does Mint’s flexible working look in practice?
Work wherever you want — At Mint we tend to allow people to work from wherever they want. Had enough of London or New York, want to get out into the countryside? Go for it, we will support any employee who is able to recognise that they need some time to revitalise. As long as you are honest and working hard, Mint doesn’t mind where you are; the three caveats being:
1) That you are contactable and have internet access
2) You understand that you might be required to come into the office for certain meetings and that this takes priority over flexible working
3) The velocity/progress of the team does not suffer due to you working remotely.
Work your own hours (within reason) — As long as you don’t let anyone down, we tend to allow people at Mint to work any hours they like. For example, I had a climbing lesson this morning, so instead of starting work at 10AM, I started at 11:30AM. At times you might need to work hard and long but at other times you can fit other things into your working day. The key to this is the mutual trust between Mint and its team to know when each is required.
Extended periods of relocation — Say you wanted to have an extended period out of the office. For example, one of our employees flew back home to Iceland to spend two weeks with her family. This is something we try to accommodate, it just generally needs to be run past the people you are working with. Again, her personal circumstances (and Mint’s circumstances) allowed her to do this at the time, not everyone at Mint would enjoy this freedom as and when they want.
Monthly catch-ups — We have monthly catch-ups which allow both Mint and employees to express how they are performing and feeling at the time. It is less a performance review, more an open conversation, and being honest in these conversations is encouraged. Mint expects honesty, hard work and progress, and in that sense Mint is not an easy place to work, but as long as progress is happening and targets/deadlines are being met, we sure don’t mind where you work from. However if these things are not happening, then we probably do. We’ve found that flexible working only works if the individual is committed to improved performance over time.
What are the things people have done?
Visiting family — As outlined above, over the years we have had people working for Mint from all over the world. At times, these people want to go home and spend time with their families. We want employees to be able to do this without feeling the need to spend their holiday on doing so.
Living outside of London — We work with people who do not necessarily want to live in London. My journey to work is two hours door to door; for most people, this would take its toll after a while. Mint’s flexible working makes this less of a hindrance and actually quite enjoyable.
Children — We are not what you might expect from a typical tech company; our staff isn’t full of 18–25 year old millennials. Some people already have or are looking to start families in the future. Mint’s flexible working allows you to balance work with looking after the kids.
Festivals & conferences — In the past people have used our flexible working to go to conferences, and sometimes these conferences are in cities attendees haven’t visited before. Who doesn’t want to explore a city while they have the chance? Working from a coffee shop in London or Vancouver doesn’t matter to us, as long as everyone gets their work done and stays in contact with their peers.
Long distance relationships — Not that we claim to be Cupid or anything, but we have had at least one successful long distance relationship survive. While not solely due to Mint’s flexible working, we like to believe we played a big part in its success 😍.
We feel like we really have struck the right balance with this. Someone once used the analogy that Mint is like a wave: the constituent parts might change, but the general direction remains consistent. The way we work is one thing that has always been a constant at Mint.
From the outset, the founders of Mint wanted to create a company that “was a great place to work”. Focusing on our employees has always been something Mint cares deeply about. We like ambitious people but we realise that ambition is not limited to the workplace. We realise there is more to life than work. While we like employees to take their work seriously, we also want them to have vibrant and fulfilling lives.
Culture is not a perk, it’s ever-changing over time; and great culture is based upon trust. In our case that two way street has great digital products going in one direction and a life of choice and flexibility going in the other.
While all of this sounds amazing, in the past it has become problematic at times. The information outlined above should always be considered as a privilege, not a right by the individual. There is a fine line between using the culture to fit the lifestyle that you want to lead and taking advantage of it.
If you have any questions about how we make this work please feel free to tweet or email us and I will be happy to address 🙂.
Originally published at mintdigital.com.