Flexible working

Flexible working… helped me thrive at work and in the gym

Jo Richardson was able to find emotional and physical balance when she started to work flexibly


Name: Jo Richardson
Joined: November 2014

My daily routine

I have been with Standard Chartered for just over two and a half years, having moved to the UAE nearly three years ago, and am currently Head of HR for Retail Banking, UAE. My days tend to be unpredictable, and without planning it’s easy to get consumed with ad hoc issues.

I get up at 5:30am to work out at the gym, and then work from home for a couple of hours while energy levels are still high – sorting out my emails, admin and planning. That time before I get into the office allows me to stay on top of things and get through admin quickly without distractions. Once I get to the office, my days are largely spent in meetings until 4pm when I head back to the gym for a couple of hours. I can always log back on in the evening to see if anything has landed in that time. I work these hours Sunday-Thursday, with one day a week working fully from home.

Why flexible works for me

There were really two key drivers for my desire to work flexible hours. One was recognising when my energies were at their peak and maximising this time most efficiently to benefit my work and home life. The second was to have better balance with my health and wellbeing, which also ensures I can deliver in the workplace. I wanted to challenge myself and prepare for a fitness competition that required training twice a day every day for 12 weeks. Flexible working meant I didn’t have to sacrifice work or miss the opportunity to pursue this challenge. In the middle of this 12-week period I also climbed Kilimanjaro!

Balancing act

Flexible working gives me the reassurance that I’m not sacrificing my personal interests for work, which as an employee is a highly engaging position to be in. I feel the Bank rewards me for my efforts by treating me as a person.

Many of us understand the challenge of working in a business and needing to be more efficient, and I felt that this arrangement was the best way for me to work in a more streamlined way. My time working from home in the mornings ensures that I feel less pressured when I’m in the office, and my arrangement as a whole allows me to keep up my physical training. I also feel more energised working in this way rather than in the traditional nine to five.

Benefits and challenges

The best thing about flexible working is that I feel balanced emotionally and physically, which enables me to perform at my best both at work and in the gym. We all know that mental wellbeing is important and I truly feel that being physically and mentally fit are the keys to being happy.

The biggest challenge to working flexibly is your own mindset – remembering that your needs are different to the person sat next to you. Once you realise this it’s quite liberating. You shouldn’t feel that you’re leaving the office early or coming late by doing hours that are not considered the norm. Presenteeism is a real barrier that we need to break down and my line manager has been very supportive of the way I prefer to work. My advice to anyone wanting to move to a more flexible arrangement is to not feel guilty about it; maximise your potential by working in the way that suits you.