Freestyle – Finalist 2023, Best for flexible working sponsored by Arnold Clark
Freestyle have developed ways of working that are underpinned by trust and a belief in autonomy, as well as recognising that flexibility can unlock individual potential and prevent burnout.
Freestyle’s flexible approach is borne out of an understanding that creative thinking doesn’t always happen between 9am and 5pm sitting in an office, and that the environment can contribute to achieving potential. There is a recognition that different learning and communication styles result in being productive at different times and in different ways, so flexible working is seen as helping employees embrace their individual styles and strengths. Freestyle operate a 4:1 home to office ratio in order that they can facilitate employees’ doing their best work whilst safeguarding against poor mental health and maintaining a sense of community and belonging.
Although employees have autonomy on which day is in the office, a booking app (designed and built by the Freestyle team themselves) is used to give visibility on who is in in order to coordinate meetings, team lunches and generally get some quality face to face time with peers. The offices are dog friendly and the app even offers team members the ability to book their dog in too. Weekly stand ups are offered as hybrid meetings to accommodate flexibility. Core working hours are 10am to 4pm, but there is flexibility within this to manage school runs, doctors’ appointments and anything else that comes up, even if that’s just getting to an off-peak gym session or getting the dog walked in daylight hours. Last minute book-on-the-day annual leave is available and known affectionately as ‘duvet days’.
Line managers are focused on regular check-ins and maintaining a dialogue to ensure employees workloads aren’t over capacity. Quarterly 1:2:1s take place remotely or in person, dependent on preference, where line managers use coaching techniques to encourage accountability and ownership of personal development, as well as acting as a mentor and seeking out training opportunities for skill development. Peer-to-peer communication is facilitated through a Slack channel dedicated to sharing how they are using flexible working to pursue fitness, hobbies or interests.
A measure of success
Freestyle’s commitment to flexible working has earned them an independently accredited score of 86%, which is based on location, hours, autonomy, benefits, role modelling and work-life balance as well as staff feedback. The measures are helping to avoid burnout, suggested by just 2.7 sick days in 2022, compared to the national average of 4.6.