Viewpoint: Agile working wins out

Taking flexi working to the next stage

I take my holidays during deepest, darkest winter. There’s something smug, but also sensible about sunbathing when it’s bitterly cold in baltic January. It’s also my birthday month and flights are temptingly cheap. No-brainer, right?

HALT! January is also the busiest month in recruitment. It’s the tail end of the ‘new year, new me’ candidates and I’m busier than ever.

However, I can make this work. I’m fortunate to work for an organisation whose reward schemes include unlimited paid holiday and agile working. So, what’s the difference between this agile and flexible working thing?

Well, flexible working usually refers to working hours. Agile working takes that a step further, breaking down traditional working barriers and making things as adaptable and efficient as possible. It’s also associated with ‘wellbeing’, and my idea of wellbeing is topping up my Vitamin D reserves and putting my flip-flops on.

So, off I trot to Lanzarote – alone, to a gorgeous, quiet resort. Four-star hotel on the beach. Room with a view.

All inclusive.

The way I see it, I’m not actually on holiday, but here for a change of scenery. That might sound like an expensive change of scenery to you, and you’d be right. But with my biggest ever January billings, which followed a hugely successful 2022, commission covers these luxuries. And the Canarian climate recharges my batteries. The sound of the waves gives me space to think and conjure up new ideas.

So how do I make it work for me?

I begin each day by clearing emails, followed by a stack of pancakes, bananas and chocolate sauce. Once I’ve demolished those, I’ll go for a walk along the beach. Mornings also consist of a couple of ad hoc calls. And of course, a large cerveza or pina colada under a palm tree, occasionally on Microsoft Teams to ‘rub it in’ to the team back in Cambridge.

Afternoons are all about lunch, sunbathing and snoozing by the pool. Tending to the odd email or call here and there. Bliss.

By about 4pm, I’m done with the sun. And I get bored. From then, through to bedtime, I’ll plough through work, without distraction, I break it up with a meal in the buffet and an agua con gas.

Rock ‘n roll! The piano bar is not really my thing and the age demographic in this hotel was around 60-70. I’m not quite there, yet.

So what are my conclusions? I monitored my ‘laptop hours’ during that week: 24-25 hours. We’ll call it five hours’ ‘proper’ work a day.

What did I learn? Well, I certainly rested, was productive and even proactive. I returned refreshed and with a tan – result!

This highlighted, though, that I can only really work like this alone. Anybody I’ve been away with in the last year will confirm that I shut myself away with my laptop for two hours a day to keep on top of work, but any more becomes anti-social.

I’m still not sure if this was a holiday or agile working. Both, probably. I’m lucky that my company recognises hard work and rewards me with perks that allows me to have a blended work-lifestyle that suits me, scratches my ‘travel-itch’ and enables the workaholic in me to be sensible about taking a break.

Jen Richardson recruits for and supports STEM organisations in Cambridge

Image credit | iStock

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