Does Flexible Working Actually Work?

One of the trends we’ve been seeing recently is flexible working – this can range from starting an hour later to working a 4-day week. These are becoming increasingly popular, so we thought we’d have a look into whether flexible working is actually beneficial.

Firstly, why do this? The thinking behind any form of flexible working is to boost morale – a happy employee is more likely to be productive. But in a situation that involves doing the same amount of work in fewer hours, the mental benefits might be mitigated and simply lead to increased pressure rather than mental levity – having to work longer hours in order to benefit from time with the family on a Friday could just not be worth it.

Recent trials found that there was no drop in quality of work and there was a 24% boost in productivity; there was also an improvement overall in mental health and morale, but this was lessened by increased stress and pressure from doing 5 days work in 4 days.


So, is this a benefit or something to be avoided? Naturally everyone has a different opinion, so I asked some of the Media Contacts team what they think:

Our Office Manager Jess thinks it’s a great idea, but suggests working an extra hour and having two 30-minute breaks throughout the day as well – would this increase morale at your current company? Comment with your opinion!

We then have Naomi , who said that rather than having a whole day off, it could be better to have 90-minute breaks for a full 5-day week to both boost morale but maintain a full weeks’ work, which our current placement student Michael also agrees with.

Our new resourcer Alex thinks the whole idea has potential but only in specific industries. Any industry that relies on consumerism will struggle to implement/maintain a four-day working week, due to consumer demands and interactions. However, a well-planned five-day working week should allow enough time for out of hours rest and recovery, so he personally wouldn’t push to have it.

Finally, our MD Rupert weighs in – his view is that it doesn’t work in a service-based industry – who is going to look after someone’s customers on the day that the person is not working? It also risks pushing more work onto the person to do out of hours, further blurring the line between leisure and work and shrinking work/life balance, which is not conducive to long term mental or physical health.

The biggest problem we have in the UK workforce at the moment is that productivity growth for most businesses more or less stopped in 2008. Previously, annual productivity growth was expected to be 2% (vital for the economy and wages/standard of living going up), whereas we have now taken 11 years to achieve 2% productivity growth. This is despite people working longer hours and taking calls/emails at home as well as at work – being engaged with work almost all of their waking hours. Rupert’s view is that if people want to maximise both productivity and work/life balance, it is more about ensuring that they are achieving their targets (both official and personal targets) within standard working hours – too much time is spent being non-efficient. The standard UK worker needs to relearn how to pack more into their day and maximise efficiency.

When Rupert first became a £300K a year biller, he didn’t do any work when I left the office – smart phones didn’t exist. He also spent no more than an hour a day checking emails or going online. He’d be in the pub or home by 6pm most evenings. Cut through the electronic distractions and restore work/life balance through being more efficient, and people have plenty of time to do non-work stuff without wanting a 4-day week.

So there you have the Media Contacts view on flexible working – we’d like to know your opinion too, so please let us know: have you tried it, would you like to or do you think it’s a bad idea?

I’ve been told my benefits package is comprehensive, but I want to be sure. What are other companies out there offering these days?

Over and above competitive salaries, companies are increasingly getting creative with their benefits packages. We’ve even seen the likes of ‘golden hellos’ in addition to the old staples of bonuses, profit sharing, medical, disability and life insurance, paid holiday and secondments, free meals, free drinks, expense accounts, social activities, phones and laptops, retail discounts, use of a company car, season ticket loans, pensions, stock options, childcare, gym membership, company holidays, personal days, sick leave, other time off from work, retirement and pension plans.


But what you have to weigh up is the complete package. Some, often smaller, companies offer fewer benefits but compensate by paying higher salaries. You also need to take into consideration the tax implications of having company cars and private medical cover, for example. If you’d like to discuss what is out there and what is fair to expect in your industry, our recruiters are happy to talk to you in more detail!


Recruitment Q&A – March 2019

Dear Aunty Recruiter

I really want to keep my employees happy but my finance director has put a lock down on salary increases for the foreseeable. What can I do?

Worried Manager, Wigan








Dear Worried Manager

You will be relieved to hear that money is seldom the key driver that makes some one leave or remain in a job. Don’t underestimate the power of:-

    • The people. It is almost always all about the people. Only hire people are talented AND nice. Not either/or, but both. Always.
    • Rewarding good work with time off. A day, even an hour or two, off can mean so much.
    • Giving praise and showing appreciation regularly and generously.
    • Holding team events, competitions and doing charity work together.
    • Offering plenty of training and opportunities for career and personal development.
    • Making sure your benefits and pension packages are competitive.

Hope that answers your question! – Julia Walton


If you have any more questions for our consultants to answer, please send them to [email protected].

7 Tips for Negotiating a Pay Rise

For those of us who don’t work in sales or finance it’s difficult enough discussing money, let alone asking outright for it, so here are a few tips to help you secure that pay rise.

  • Check your contract. Some companies will be really clear about when your appraisals are. For those that aren’t, ask for a meeting with your line manager but be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
  • Do your homework. Find out what your market rate is by looking at adverts for jobs similar to yours. Speak to your recruiter – any recruiter worth their salt will want to keep in touch with you between job-moves and they should have a really good idea of your worth in the market.
  • Think carefully about why you should have a pay rise. Have you outperformed your colleagues? Have you regularly met and exceeded your targets? Are you performing duties above your paygrade? Also think about why your employer should invest more money in you – what will they be getting out of it?
  • Get your timing right. Has the company just secured a big new client? Or have they just invested heavily in a rebrand?
  • It’s not all about money. Will an extra £2K a year make much of a difference after tax? Perhaps you could negotiate a later start or an earlier finish to aid the school run. Or maybe a season ticket loan so you don’t have to fork out a lump sum. Improving your work-life balance or your cash-flow may be more valuable to you.
  • Make sure you’re armed with a written proposal – it doesn’t have to be a huge, laminated document, just something your line manager can go away with. They may not be the final decision-maker so arming them with your research may help your case.
  • Make the first offer. You should be confident enough to do this if you’re well prepared. Research shows that making the first (sensible) offer helps to secure discussions in your favour.

This article by the Financial Times gives some similar advice about negotiating a pay rise, and if you’d like any further advice, call your friendly neighbourhood recruiter for a chat on 020 7359 8244.

Five Minutes with… John Bowen

Each month, we’ll feature one of our team members in a brief Q&A, so you can get to know us all better! This month we’re meeting John Bowen who is opening a new PR office for us.

How did you get into recruitment?

I was working in PR very much enjoying it but decided that I wanted to make more money. I enjoy talking to people, so thought recruitment might suit me. My recruiter suggested to me that it would be the perfect job for me and I should check it out. Having done so, I’m delighted… It’s a great job, I meet really interesting people and work for an agency I like with supportive management.

Tell us about the sectors you recruit in…

I recruit in PR across technology, corporate, digital, property… To be honest, whatever our clients need, we do our best to make sure their needs are filled.

Why do you think your clients and candidates like working with you?

I think people find me to be genuine when I talk to them, I’m on their side, I’m honest, I’m in recruitment to build long term relationships, it’s something I’ve learned from working with clients in PR and now I have candidates as well. I’m keen for people to come back to me in the future, so want to build trust.

What are your plans with the new office you’re opening?

The Midlands and the north of the UK are untapped for Media Contacts, well we do have some clients there already, but there’s a lot more opportunity there and now we have the resources to open an office there we’re going full throttle. Some people think London is the be all and end all for work, but there’s a lot of rich talent out there and we’re keen to ensure we’re engaged beyond London.

Why are you moving?

I’m moving because my wife is from Birmingham, so we know the city very well. I’ve got two young children now, so we’re keen to see what life is like outside London and spend a bit more time with family.

Now to get to know you!

If you never had to work again and money was no object, what would you do?

I’d like to pick papayas on a desert island with my family and live a very simple life.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m a closet gamer, I’ve never given it up since being a kid, I’ve always had some sort of console or PC and for me it’s a great way to relax.

What sort of games do you play?

When I was a kid I’d play role-playing games but now it’s first person shooters… it’s probably the stress of recruitment!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Naturally, George Clooney.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?

It’s a toss-up between two. Collecting eggs on a chicken farm, that was stifling and I was attacked by cockerels all the time, even though I’m 6”3 I couldn’t fight them off. The other job was phoning up offices selling reams of A4 paper, which was really tedious. On balance, probably collecting eggs was worse.

What’s your favourite book?

That’s tough. I think the book that’s had the most influence on my life is 48 Laws of Power. It condenses lots of excerpts of philosophy and history and gives examples of what to do in life and how to succeed.

And your favourite song?

That would have to be Lost in Music by Sister Sledge.

We’ve already discovered that you want to be stranded on a desert island with your family but, if you were stranded on a desert island on your own, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Having watched Bear Grylls’ Celebrity Island, it would definitely be build a shelter while I have the energy to do so. I want to make sure the rain doesn’t affect me too much and I don’t get bitten by bugs. I’ve genuinely thought about this a lot.

And finally, what’s your favourite colour?

I’m a bit of a lover of pink. If it suited me, I’d wear it more often.