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Insights Why flexible working is important to me.

02 December 2019

Alex Morely | Principal Human Factors Consultant 

I’m currently sat on a Monday evening writing this after my first day in a new office and reflecting on what a supportive employer Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, is. Having spent the past 6 years working from our Warrington office, today I spent my first day working remotely from our Newcastle office instead.

Caring for me and my priorities

The move across the Pennines wasn’t Atkins’ idea, but something which I requested of the company. You see, my wife received a job offer to become the CEO of a new Active Partnership covering all of Northumberland and Tyne & Wear, which was an opportunity for career progression which I was very keen to support her in.

Unfortunately, I line-manage staff in the Warrington office and don’t have any clients in the immediate surroundings of the Newcastle office, so wasn’t quite sure how well the idea would be received.

Solving the problem as a team

Rather than looking for the reasons why it would be difficult, the immediate response of management was to say, “Okay, how can we make it work?” Massive credit has to go to Emily, my line manager, Ashley, our Operations Manager and Ed our Operations Director, who have all been immediately supportive of me making this move for the good of my family.

Mobile working in the digital age

Thanks to the technologies that Atkins has been introducing over recent years, a bit of flexibility from me in terms of travel and time spent looking after my line reports in Warrington, and an incredibly professional and mature team, I have been able to move our family across the country while continuing to perform my job in a way that means our clients will probably never even notice.

sandy beach in Newcastle

Flexible working policies that get the most out of life

Combining this with the flexible working opportunities I’ve taken advantage of over the years means that I’ve been able to create a work-life balance that I honestly don’t believe would be available at other companies in what can be an incredibly stressful job.

Respecting my life outside of work

We were able to move our whole family from the North West to the North East, get school sorted for my daughter and start work in our new offices within less than three months of my wife receiving her job offer. 

All of this was achieved safe in the knowledge that my work would be able to continue much as it has since I joined the company.

Now my children are already in their new school and nursery environments, we’re spending our weekends exploring our new home and getting ourselves settled into life by the sea.

What I miss most about working in Warrington 

I miss the people and culture that I was so involved in at the office in Warrington. I miss the three o’clock sitting of the Biscuit Club and the weekly outing of the Wednesday Waddlers running group – both of which are unofficial groups that I started in order to get employees interacting in different ways and building up a bit more team spirit.

I’m also really missing the weekly company-subsidized Pilates sessions which I’d been going to for the past year or so – I’m hoping that my body won’t rebel against me now that I’m no longer doing those or taking advantage of my old sit-stand desk!

Having said that. We’re ensuring that our traditional “Fat Friday” breakfast trips to the local shop to get a breakfast barm are now re-scheduled for whichever day of the week I go across to the office!

Real support when I needed it most

Alex with his daughter

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences of your life, and doing so with small children whilst moving area at the same time is bound to make it worse. To have had the confidence from the company that moving office wouldn’t add to this stress made a massive difference to my stress levels and was a huge weight off my mind.

Going forwards, the ability to walk 200 yards from my front door and be at the sea on a long sandy beach will also do wonders for my own wellbeing. I’m an outdoorsy kind of person, so being able to take a lunch-time walk or run in the fresh (ok, sometimes freezing rather than fresh) sea air is a huge bonus. Thank you Atkins.

How would flexible working make a difference to your life? Read more about our options and team culture, here.