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Wellbeing / Work styles

Flexible working arrangements

One of the things I love about being a soloist is the flexibility. I’m not alone in this, obviously, but I was reminded recently about how important flexible working arrangements are to me.

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Firstly, it has enabled me to spend the last six weeks in Europe. “All that time off!” you may think. Actually, it’s not time off. I’ve been working the same amount of hours as I would in Australia.

The only inkling clients (that’s you lot) will have had that I’m not physically present down under is my emails arrive at odd hours and, in the absence of an SMTP client, are sent via Gmail.

My Flying Solo colleagues, bless ‘em, tell me they miss my presence at our monthly face to face meetings. But we still have a director’s meeting on Skype every Monday afternoon, EST. A few painfully early starts are a small price to pay for being able to work whenever, wherever.

A far more significant gift soloism has given me is the ability to help those close to me.

When a friend’s mum fell gravely ill, he and his wife rushed back to the UK from Sydney. They stopped at their London flat long enough to dump their bags before leaving on a long train journey to his family home.

"I love that my flexible working arrangements mean I can duck out without worrying about getting permission from a boss or attracting disapproving looks from colleagues."

I found out what time they’d be at the flat and called round with some food for the trip.

Want more articles like this? Check out the work styles section.

I wonder how many of his other friends would have been able to duck out for an hour on a Tuesday morning to extend a helping hand? I love that my flexible working arrangements mean I can do that without worrying about getting permission from a boss or attracting disapproving looks from colleagues.

A while ago, Robert, Peter and I completed a values exercise. One task was to build a profile of Flying Solo as a person. One of their qualities was “Has priorities straight – would not hesitate to put down their computer to help a loved one.”

It’s great to be living it.

Does soloism give you the flexible working arrangements you seek? Or does the burden of earning your own income have you shackled to the desk? Let us know.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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