As FluidIT transitions from start up to scale up, the Leeds-based management consultancy continues to take on new talent. Lindsay Cahill, principal business analyst and new mum is the latest member of the team and last week marked Lindsay’s one-month ‘Fluidiversary’.
Lindsay developed her expertise in a variety of industries from logistics to customer management, gaining experience in flexible working as a consultant. She said: “Other companies may pay lip service to ‘flexible working’ but in practice it isn’t. They expect five days’ worth of work in three or four.”
Because flexible working comes in many forms, from working from home to flexi-time hours and compressed hours, there can be a lack of consensus around boundaries and respect.
A year ago, Lindsay switched out spreadsheets for tiny feet, becoming a mum for the first time. With such a life change she was motivated to gain control of her work-life balance. Returning to the workplace, she sought after transparency around the flexible working conversation.
This is when Lindsay met FluidIT directors Jonty Abbott and Gareth Murphy.
She said: “Although I was considering taking on a contract with another company at the time, my mind was changed after having a chat with Jonty and Gareth. They support flexibility and allow me to work on various projects at any one time.”
Since then, Lindsay has fit into the company culture and found a system that works for her as facilitated by FluidIT’s ‘fractional’ working approach.
But what is fractional working exactly? And does it work?
The fractional model has its origins in the worlds of finance and academia, but it continues to be adopted by SMEs in a variety of sectors. Schedules are set to the same hours or days a week and employers are bound by contracts in paying fractional employees for their defined work hours on payday.
What sets fractional working apart from part-time employment is it involves highly skilled workers and people in technical positions. In the case of FluidIT, expert consultants are providing their services on several IT and digital projects and working for multiple clients simultaneously. This tends not to be project-based and represents a more ongoing provision of services to the client.
Lindsay said: “At the moment I’m getting the best of both worlds. I spend over half the week with my son but I also get to be the old Lindsay three days a week. I look forward to coming into work. There’s no guilt around spending too much time at home and not enough at work and vice versa.”
Built into the FluidIT business model, this is a company-wide system which focuses on delivering value to the client. From client site to head office, each member of the team works in two or more locations per week, providing their services ‘fractionally’ to customers.
Structures like flexible working also place control back into the hands of the employee, giving them more agency. It supports workplace equality and the important role of caregiving. Running their own agendas, beyond childcare flexible working is transformative for wellbeing and productivity.
“I know that at FluidIT should something happen and I need to leave early that for example, that would be fine I’ll just make my hours up another time. Other places I have worked seldom allow for this. The way FluidIT values and trusts employees without that pressure to work all hours incentivises you to work harder.”
Nowadays, on average UK workers stay in any given job for 2-4 years. Retention is seen when staff feel valued and are offered the opportunity to take control of their work-life balance. There is a high demand for flexible work and a huge pool of potential talent seeking it. Making it clear that flexible working is on offer when advertising vacancies is a win-win scenario. Flexible hiring will continue to prove as an advantage for FluidIT in taking on the best talent regardless of circumstantial barriers to 9-5 full-time working structures.