Director Sarah Savage looks at the hot topic of flexible working: its benefits, both personally and professionally
In our age of increasing connectivity, tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are slowly impacting the world of healthcare comms. Many agencies now offer a varying degree of flexibility. So how does this work in reality, and how can this benefit both the employee and the agency? Here is my experience and the difference it’s made both to my home and professional life, and to Pegasus.
Flexibility may be offered by employers in many forms: location, hours of work, types of roles on offer, and their general approach to when and how those hours are worked.
If we look 10 years ago, the majority of pharma comms agencies would offer limited flexibility – maybe one day working from home if you were lucky, and some variability of hours to allow for personal appointments such as a trip to the dentist or seeing your kid’s school play. Occasionally more flexibility was on offer, but generally reserved for medical writers or freelance staff. Finally, things are changing for account handlers and permanent staff alike.
I went freelance over three years ago to try and balance the demands of home and work better. I wanted more flexibility over working hours and when and how I did those hours. However, the flexibility offered by Pegasus was enough to convince me to change from freelance to permanent – and I haven’t looked back.
Despite holding a senior position on the Leadership Team as Director of the Pharma and Life Sciences team, I am officially based at home, and spend time in our other locations (Brighton, Oxford and Macclesfield) as and when I need to, but importantly when it also works for me and my family.
I can Zoom into any meeting, connect with teams via Skype messages during the day, access all documents via VPN, and maintain a level of presence without physically being in the office. If I need to pop out for the school run or any appointments, I catch up later on during the day as needed. With no commuting time, I can start cooking dinner at a reasonable hour (which usually involves throwing something in the oven). I really do feel very fortunate that I have the best of both worlds.
This has meant a huge deal to me personally and to my teenage girls, who can rely on me to be around much more than the typical ‘working mum’. I follow a similar approach with my colleagues too, ensuring they can also work from home if they need to, rather than it being a big thing. If you treat people like responsible adults and engender a feeling of trust, this creates a collaborative and productive environment rather than one governed by fear.
So flexible working is great for me, but what about for Pegasus? Is it such a great thing? They seem pretty happy with it too (thankfully!) I have regular face time with the teams using Zoom and with in-person meetings, as well as our social events where we can all spend valuable time together. I still travel frequently, to client meetings and pitches. As I often work from home, this change of scenery is always something I look forward to. Remote working has business benefits too – I can focus on proposal writing, work of a sensitive or confidential nature, and reviewing work, with no need for a quiet space to be found.
When I need to spend more time in the office, I do, and when I need to be at home, then both Pegasus and I ensure that this works smoothly for everyone. Work will always throw challenges at me, but juggling my home and work is generally much less difficult than I ever thought possible. It requires a degree of forward planning and excellent communication on both sides, but it’s usually a delight.