By Martyn Gregory
To mark International Women’s Day, Martyn Gregory, senior partner for South West & Wales region at Deloitte, challenges what people consider to be traditional working arrangements and discusses how these are evolving.
I #ChoosetoChallenge traditional working arrangements and pledge to continue working to improve a work life balance, productivity and gender equality.
The world of work is facing dramatic change. Whilst technology, demographic shifts and the changing expectations of talent has disrupted the way we work, the pandemic has been the catalyst for accelerating those changes in the workplace.
Deloitte has always championed agile working arrangements. Whether that be flexible hours to working from home, but like many of us, I always preferred the traditional office model as it felt more productive, until 2020.
2020 was a year like no other. In the space of a few days the physical office was replaced by the virtual workplace and with it a need to bend and flex to fit with additional commitments at home.
I work with colleagues, many but not all of them women, whose request for agile working arrangements came from a need to be flexible to meet the demands of home, work and clients, when in fact they are innovators of time, a lesson I am still learning.
Since the pandemic I have a new-found, deep respect for those who were already juggling multiple deadlines and projects with childcare and out of work responsibilities.
I, for one, was someone who performed best in an office environment, enjoying in person interaction and collaboration with colleagues, meeting up with my clients as well as the more social aspect such as catch-ups over coffee or chit chat by the coffee machines.
On pivoting to remote working, I initially found it difficult to settle into a routine as I’d never spent more than an odd day or two working from home until then, and it wasn’t something that I’d regularly done previously. However, as time progressed, I found it easier and began to challenge my own original outlook of office based working vs working from home. Listening to colleagues’ experiences of their home lives, and learning how they approach remote and agile working, alongside juggling caring commitments or home-schooling, whilst still being productive and effective in their roles, has been enlightening to me and many others in our business.
The onset of the pandemic affected all of our personal and professional lives in so many different ways, but it has also seen a huge shift in attitudes which challenge what many people have considered to be traditional working arrangements.
I have found that I am more focused as I spend less time thinking about being ‘present’ and ‘visible’ and more on the ‘doing’. My new dual-home responsibilities ensure there is less time to overthink.
Our greatest asset is our people and throughout the past 12 months I have witnessed resilience, productivity and acceptance since the pandemic hit.
Sometimes the hours are longer, but productivity is higher as we have been more accepting of people’s time. Priorities have changed. The health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce comes first and whilst there are still pressures, there is also the knowledge and acceptance that not everything will go to plan.
The future of work is changing. Whilst I long for the day we can all meet and see each other in an office environment, I #ChoosetoChallenge traditional working arrangements because we have proved that we are all capable of multi-tasking work with home life, it should not be a gender-biased role and businesses have a responsibility to ensure equality for all.