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Business practices are moving on and modernising fast these days and we at Elephant Creative rather like to think we are on the cusp of all this. Better use of technology, flexible working hours, home-working, virtual offices… sounds like a mine-field, and maybe for many businesses it still is, but not for us.

Recently, owner of Elephant Creative, Helen Hammond was asked to pen an article on this very subject for national business magazine Director, a publication circulated to over 53,000 members of the Institute of Directors, as well as some independent readers.

Writing on the subject ‘How trust and flexibility are vital for keeping talented staff’ the column looks at how flexible working and allowing staff out of your sight can have a dramatically positive impact on a business – quite the opposite view held by many directors of large companies in the UK.

As all our clients know, we are a ‘virtual agency’ – what an earth does that mean?  Well we are a collection of experts in our field, brought together based purely on our experience and expertise in various sectors of marketing and PR.  We don’t all sit in a big office together sharing tea and biscuits –in fact many work from home offices and fit work around their life commitments, but our clients know they are getting the very best staff for the same cost as a huge agency with a glass office block.

To see the article you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of Director Magazine, however here’s a sneaky excerpt from Helen’s column:

“……..For me, it comes down to common sense.   I never set out to promote flexible working and present opportunities for ‘stay at home mums (and dads)’ to carry on working at a senior level.  I never had a light bulb moment where I decided that recruiting students and helping them to build a freelance career, was a good idea.  I simply wanted a team that was made up of the very best people.  And if I wanted them I needed to adapt, not them.

With the advent of cloud-based computing, and an increasingly virtual commercial world, there really is little excuse for a ‘seat warming’ mentality.  I cannot fathom what makes businesses, even now, so scared of losing control that they force professionals down a nine-to-five path.  How many have lost critical team-members because of a mistaken belief that flexible working conditions or hours were not suitable on business grounds?  And how many professionals have been made to feel that their careers are over, just because they want to work from home or weekends?

There are, of course, many roles that it would be inappropriate to take this approach with and there is no denying that it is easier to walk down a corridor than it is to communicate via Skype.  But surely ‘ease’ is the wrong decider?  Businesses should be asking what presents the most effective bottom-line outcome – what will help them to best achieve their commercial objectives and get the best return on their HR investment.  My belief is that if more stopped viewing flexible working as the business equivalent of a man with his eyes too close together and started opening their minds then the cost saving, productivity and talent retention benefits would soon follow……….”

Helen was recently awarded a CIM Women in Marketing ‘Company Award’ highly commended for her commitment to hiring and retaining talented women in senior roles, and has been shortlisted as Woman of the Year in the Gloucestershire Women in Business Awards.