Martin Walsh – Managing Director
At the start of National Work Life Week and after the past 18 months everybody has endured, it seemed appropriate to write a little blog about how we here at Paramount approach flexible working and actively encourage our team to find a work-life balance that suits them all individually.
Whilst the majority of the team are parents as our Karen & myself we have always looked to support everybody to find their own balance between work and their everyday lives, whether that be to attend childrens’ school performances, look to obtain further education & qualifications for themselves or simply to get some exercise during the day when it’s not been going to plan.
Dealing with a pandemic and trying to run a business at the same time has thrown many challenges our way but it has also created a huge opportunity to show how flexibly everybody can work and I feel this has resulted in the great benefit of people within our team finding a work-life balance that suits them as individuals. We have been able to offer everybody a choice of what hours and how many days they would like to work in the office as this still gives people the feeling of being part of a team and helps immensely from the social & communication side of things but we also recognise that by choosing the days they want to work remotely provides them with flexibility and the ability to choose how they plan their days away from working in the office.
It is still early days of this hybrid way of working for most of us and there will probably need to be a few tweaks along the way but I genuinely believe this is the way forward and will result in not just improved productivity and efficiency for the company but will mean that all of our team have opportunities to grow & develop and ultimately achieve their own perfect work-life balance.
Kris Kilsby – Costs Lawyer
Working flexibly was always a part of the plan when I decided to join Paramount. It was discussed openly and frankly and we were able to agree on working three days in the office and two days at home. This was primarily due to the fact that I am based over in the North East and the commute five times a week across the northern edge of the Pennines would be excessive. However, this is not the only reason, and being able to work flexibly has far greater benefits than simply avoiding the commute. It frees up time at the beginning and end of the day to go out and exercise or get odd-jobs and chores completed. It means that the time that would normally be ‘wasted’ commuting can now be some of the most productive times of the week. This then frees up time during the evenings and weekends to spend time with my girlfriend, friends and family.
As such, when Covid-19 hit and the government restrictions implemented, I did not notice too much of a change in my flexible working, save for the fact that my two days a week working from home became five. Thankfully, I had already got a rudimentary home office set up and therefore the transition was seamless. The main area that required work was to ensure that alternative communication channels were set up so that all of the team could keep in touch even when we were all working from home. Zoom calls and Whatsapp groups became very good replacements and it continued to be the case that whenever you needed to discuss a particularly tricky issue there was always someone available on the end of the phone. Whilst this can never be a complete replacement for in-person interactions, which have returned since returning to the office on a weekly basis, they can continue to offer a great deal of support throughout the working day.
Another aspect that I cannot personally underestimate as a benefit from flexible working is the ability work to meet the ever changing and challenging deadlines set by the Court. Working from home means that I can front load work by getting an early start one day to ensure that we continue to provide our clients with the best service and then I can then finish earlier once the time sensitive work is complete. That level of flexibility does personally provide a great sense of ‘peace of mind’ because I can be in complete control of meeting any urgent deadlines.
Melanie Pearson – Senior Costs Draftsman & Negotiator
Being able to work flexibly from home has benefitted me hugely and has had a really positive impact. As an extremely busy Mum working full time hours, being able to work from home has definitely helped me in juggling all of my daily and weekly tasks. I can work my hours much easier around school drop off and pick ups as school is only a short drive away and I also find planning mealtimes and organising after school activities much easier to manage as I do not feel like I’m constantly rushing from one place to the next and constantly chasing my tail.
Equally, the hours spent working at home each day in my own workspace with no interruptions really help me to focus and get through so much work. I find that I can set my mind to which tasks are most important each day, sit down and get them done knowing exactly how much time I have to be able to get my head down uninterrupted. It can be very satisfying. I also feel proud that I am not taking my car up and down the motorway each day now so doing my very small bit for our planet.
Whilst for me personally, the benefits of being able to work from home far outweigh any negatives, I would say that I do feel that I do not move around as much when at home which is not ideal and I do have to try to force myself to take proper breaks away from my computer which isn’t easy when you are very busy and just want to get that extra job done! It’s really nice to have the balance that I have by spending a day each week in the office with my colleagues though. 😊
Emma Robson – Costs Lawyer
At Paramount, I have adopted flexible working. This means I work two days a week in the office and three days a week at home. I enjoy the mix of being in the office and chatting to colleagues but also the time I spend at home. As a family, we welcomed a little puppy to our home in February 2020 and working from home means that I can keep an eye on her and not have to worry about rushing back on a lunchtime to take her for a walk. The flexibility of being able to choose my working hours suits me and allows me to be on hand to help out my elderly Grandparents.
During lockdown, working from home became a bit monotonous, the boundaries between work and home were becoming blurred and it was difficult to switch off. Paramount kindly supplied me with a second screen and I decided to set up a ‘home office’ in the spare bedroom. This was the perfect move for me, it meant I could essentially shut the door on an evening, we got our dining table back and my mental health improved. I have also tried to make the most of the time saved commuting to and from the office by exercising.