Nearly one month in and I’ve stuck to my guns at having my Clayton’s Gift Day. I’ve learned so much already (and suspect I’ve only scratched the surface).  But here’s my best attempt at summarising so far:

  1. Being able to take a day – whether that is a day off work entirely or a day to work on the business rather than in it relies on 2 key things: preparation and discipline.  Preparation is all about making sure that you’ve planned for the time away and put the measures (people, systems, communication) in place to make sure that you aren’t faced with constant interruptions or the stress of worrying about everything that you should be doing.  And discipline is about not allowing yourself to be drawn in – not answering the phone, not checking emails, not saying yes to the ‘I know you are away, but could we please just …?’  PS: that discipline piece is actually the hardest part!  Especially if you are someone like me who is not good at saying no.
  2. The balance that can be achieved when working from home is incredible.  Now, because I know this is a challenge that some people may raise, I will say that am conscious that it is easier for me to be comfortable with this because I am my own boss; but I’d truly encourage leaders to keep an open mind to how your people can gain balance as well.  Here’s what my day looks like when I work from home … I start work at least an hour earlier because I don’t have a 25 minute drive to work (actually 30 by the time I drop the kids off) – instead, my husband drops them to the bus on his way in so I gain a whole hour straight up.  I love working in the morning, so I get straight into it.  I will be super focused on my project work for 1 to 1 1/2 hour blocks.  In between those blocks, rather than faffing around, distracting others in the office, making cups of coffee I don’t end up drinking etc, I put on a load of washing, wipe down the kitchen bench (it normally doesn’t get a whole lotta love from me), or water the plants.  All things that take no longer than 5 minutes each time, give me a sense of enjoyment or achievement, and further free up my time on the weekend to spend with the family.
  3. Most people are really supportive of someone wanting to do things a bit differently.  At Focus HR we are lucky that our clients are wonderful – we work with them because we have strong alignment and they genuinely want to do good things with their people.  So I know this gives us a head start in having them understand what we want to achieve.  But this aside, I am yet to have someone complain about me not being available for a morning (its exactly the same as if I was unavailable because of a client appointment), or say that they think a 4 day week is unprofessional or irresponsible of us.  In fact, most people are interested, want to know how we are going about it and ask us to share our learnings so that they might be able to do the same one day.  
  4. You can actually improve on productivity and service.  Impact on clients and service delivery was my biggest fear going into this.  But just like I need the discipline to set aside anything other than tasks that are working ‘on’ the business on my CGDs; I also have found a new discipline on my 4 client facing days where I am no longer distracted by all of the other things that I want/need to do.  This has been an awesome and unexpected side effect of the process.  Not only am I more focused on productive on my CGD days, but I’m experiencing the exact same thing on my 4 normal work days.

So as you can hear, the early wins are continuing and I grow more certain of our success every week.  I am also waiting for the disruption to this that I’m sure will come (with the confidence that we will be able to figure it out).

On to month 2…

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