iCrossing, Winner 2015, The Direct Line Group Best for Line Managers Award

In a competitive sector, iCrossing has shown that the foundation to embedding flexible working is set by supportive managers who want to make it work and who understand the benefits that it can bring to them and their business, including high performance and happy individuals. Their philosophy is that good management is integral to good performance, not separate from it. Managers feel empowered to make their own decisions regarding how they manage their teams, and they have the confidence to do so flexibly. All iCrossing’s line managers are trained in approving and managing flexible working and the company is firmly of the belief that it cannot simply be offered as a policy hidden away in a lengthy company handbook: it needs to be lived, breathed and implemented across the business. iCrossing has made excellent use of technology to enable this to happen.

iCrossing’s managers are trained to become experts and are brave enough to accommodate requests for flexible working as and when they are made. For example, 100% of the Chief Technology Officer’s team work flexibly: “In general, software developers need an environment where they can concentrate for long periods of time and yet also be able to easily collaborate with the team. Flexible working enables them to choose the right environment for them for any particular task and I fully support it. This could be working at home when there is some hardcore coding to be done and using video for scrum meetings and estimation sessions. Mostly the team choose to come into the office on sprint ‘review and retrospective’ days (once every two weeks) to have quality face-to-face time.

“We’ve been gradually refining our systems and processes over the last few years to make sure that everyone stays on track. We use JIRA and Agile to keep everyone task- and goal-focused and HipChat for the continuous ‘stream of consciousness’ that means remote workers don’t feel left out. We also have team nights out every so often to make sure it’s not all work and no play, where a good time is had by all. For me, I can see my sons most mornings and evenings and also fit chores in around my work. I cook dinner most evenings and we all get to sit at the table together and chat about the day’s events.”

Although flexible working is in the early stages of evaluation, anecdotally iCrossing has seen very good uptake over the past 12 months, right across the business, with people of all levels of seniority adopting varying degrees of flexible working, and understanding the benefits of being able to do so. The person working from home, or who gets in a bit later every day, is no longer seen as lazy or slacking; it is just understood that this way of working suits them best. iCrossing is also launching some ebooks on flexible working for line managers and staff so that they can understand the logistics and the benefits without having to wade through complex company handbooks.