What We Have Learned About Work Flexibility

Brian Cleary looks at the issues that we encountered while undertaking our large recruitment drive in the first quarter of 2018.  We look at work flexibility and the options that we enable our staff to take.Now that our flurry of recruitment is (almost) over, I have had the time to look back on all of my notes and to think about the issues that arose during the many meetings that we held in Ireland and the UK with prospective employees.  Despite the differences in location, qualifications, experience and other elements, there was one issue that consistently arose during the course of our conversations with candidates.  That issue was the lack of opportunities for remote working or work flexibility.

Acorn Regulatory Work Flexibility Blog

This is an issue that Gemma Robinson wrote about a number of months ago on our blog.  Gemma had written her blog just as we were beginning our recruitment process to significantly enlarge our team and, possibly as a result of her comments in that blog, a lot of candidates spoke to us about their frustrations with their employers at not being able to work remotely or the inability to avail of flexi-time and other flexible working solutions.

The ability to facilitate flexibility and the vagaries of everybody’s lives has enabled us to recruit and retain some of the most talented regulatory, pharmacovigilance and quality professionals that are working today.  When we meet candidates we always tell them that everybody has a different routine but that the wide range of routines coalesce to enable us to work with client companies in all parts of the world at any time of the night or day.  We like to think that our colleagues appreciate the flexibility to build their working week around their families or their other interests and that, in return, we get to work with and ‘hold on to’ very talented people.  We do this by offering flexi-time, remote working and other options to new joiners from day one.  In fact, this month (April 2018) only one of the many new joiners to Acorn Regulatory has opted to work a ‘traditional’ working week.  Everybody else has elected to choose a configuration that works for them and works for us.

The issue of tele-commuting or home working or remote working has been a ‘hot topic’ for almost 20 years.  In the earliest days of home working it was looked on as being a task that might be difficult to carry out because of the clunky nature of technology of the time.  Now, however, there are no impediments to working from home (with the possible exception of poor broadband connections).  In fact, our systems allow our staff to log on anywhere in the world that they can get an internet connection.  Survey Monkey carried out a survey (and let’s be honest, who better to do such a thing?) about tele-commuting.  They surveyed 504 people and they asked:  “If your ability to work from home was taken away, would you like your job less?”  Forty six per cent of those surveyed said that they would like their job less if they couldn’t work from home.  In a 2016 survey Magnet, the Irish telecoms company, stated that working from home was on the rise in Ireland and that it was becoming more prevalent in small and medium enterprises (like ours) rather than large corporates. So, even a cursory glance towards the stats shows that there is an increasing appetite for non-traditional working options and, luckily for us, we are able to provide that to our staff.

Last year, The Daily Telegraph featured a number of articles relating to home working or tele-commuting.  One of the articles looked at some of the obvious benefits to employees and employers of working remotely.  They included:

  1. Reduction in commuting time
  2. More productivity
  3. Fewer sick days
  4. Improved employee retention
  5. Increased talent pool

So, looking at the above list it seems that both parties stand to benefit from home working.

Also, when we were meeting candidates we noticed that they were excited by the scope of the projects that we undertake.  After all, we do work with companies all over the world and on every different type of product imaginable.  For many of the people that we met, this was a significant attraction as it was a world away from their roles that focused on certain product lines or certain tasks that need to be carried out day-in and day-out.  The issue of variety is one that I’ll look at in a further careers blog on this website.

I am looking forward to introducing you to the new members of the team over the coming months on our careers blog.  As always, we welcome your feedback on this or any other issue.  Also, if you’d like to have an initial informal discussion with me about a possible role at Acorn Regulatory then please feel free to mail me:  brian.cleary@acornregulatory.com  at any stage.

While I have your attention – perhaps you would like to subscribe to our newsletter?