Tales of untethered Part 1: The Chairman

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How does a flexible working environment work in recruitment?  Can it work? How does it impact recruiters and the business they work for?  In our 5 part series The Recruitment Company talks about our individual, first hand experiences with becoming what we like to call ‘untethered’.


Part One – The Chairman

I’ve been in recruitment a long time, over 18 years now.  In that time I’ve made a decent amount of money as a consultant and in doing so I’ve worked some long hours.  Traditional recruitment involves being tied to a desk, to a phone, leaving the office only to visit client sites or drink the night away ‘networking’ or celebrating.

I worked my fair share of late nights, typical days exceeding 12 hours.  But then, years ago, a good friend of mine taught me about systems.  She showed me a better way of working which reduced my time in the office by about 25% and increased my sales by about 33%.  Since that epiphany I have become obsessed with systems and finding better, more effective and more efficient ways of doing things. 

So when The Recruitment Company discovered that its purpose was to become what we grandly call The ‘Untethered’ Recruitment Company, I’ve found a new obsession; how systems can set us free from the office, from the 9 – 5, from the traditional recruitment model.

I’m no longer a consultant, I need to put that disclaimer in here. My Tale of Untethered will be different to a few others in this series but the concepts that have allowed me to change my lifestyle extend out to others within The Recruitment Company.

I’m 43 and I’ve burnt the candle at both ends for a long time.  But having kids changed things for me.  I wanted more time!  Suddenly time, that infinite resource of our youth, ran out.  There was never enough of it. With 3 young kids vying for attention life was filled with guilt. There was never enough time to help with homework, build Lego, watch old movies, make stuff out of washing up liquid bottles, listen to long stories about the merits of a friends new hat etc.

So the concept of working flexible hours from anywhere I chose to do so appealed.

But I run a business in a tough industry where changes happen quickly, where poor decisions can break us, where good decisions can make us. My job is to have my finger on the pulse and check that we’re addressing these. So being away from the office presented challenges that, if not addressed properly, could prove fatal.  I was concerned with how becoming untethered would impact my ability to know what was going on.

But it turned out its been the best thing I’ve ever done for The Recruitment Company, and for me.

The key has been four things 

  • The systems we’ve put in place – knowing which numbers are important, having the right IT systems and having the right meeting structure. (Follow us on LinkedIn to read our upcoming blogs on using meetings to create the right pulse, how to use cloud to free up a sales team and how to create effective KPI’s)
  • The culture we’ve built – if you don’t have the right people with the right mentality and mindset then it won’t work. Full stop. (Follow us on LinkedIn to read our upcoming blog about creating a culture fit for workplace flexibility.)
  • The critical mass we’ve set – knowing your own maximum and minimum span of control is important. It’s different for everyone and changes over time, but knowing the upper and lower limits are important.
  • The financially stable business we’ve built – we’ve all been at the mercy of the feast and famine of perm recruitment and the slow build of contract. Finding the right balance between the two allows you to weather inevitable mistakes but gives you the confidence to make enough of them to find the one that works.


So what does it mean to me?

I work around my kids. I’ve two at school, one going to school in January. I still work 8 – 10 hours a day on average but I just do it at weird times.

Monday is the anchor day, everyone is in. We all review the previous week, work through any issues, set priorities and share information. 

For the rest of the week I work at home and plan my day around the school run, spending at least a few hours with my daughter (some days more than others), homework/arguing about homework, making random stuff out of Lego and getting kids to bed.  My working hours tend to be 8 – 10 hours per day scattered in 2 hour chunks between 7am and 11pm. 

In addition, Tuesdays I can now help out at the school with 1 class for each of my sons (I’m a volunteer ethics teacher).  I wanted to get more involved in the school because I’d read some well referenced, peer reviewed research (or possibly a Facebook post) about how a parents involvement in school can boost a child’s engagement.  I’ve seen a marked improvement in engagement from my kids.  Again this is something I never dreamed I’d be able to do before ‘Untethered’.

I now get to spend loads of time with my daughter, riding bikes, going rock climbing (which is her new favourite thing) or just sitting around in coffee shops drinking milkshakes talking about gossip from day care. To fit this in I tend to cram more stuff into evenings.  Before ‘Untethered,’ spending this much quality time with my daughter in the year before she goes to school is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I have found that the key to this level of flexibility is to rigorously plan each day the evening before and to identify which tasks are time specific (eg video conference meetings, calls to vendors, calls to clients etc) and which can be done at any time (writing blogs, reading contracts, reviewing creative work, marketing etc).  

This plan is then supported by robust systems; video conferencing, succinct reporting, phone mobility, cloud technologies.  With these systems I have the numbers I need at my fingertips, I can run and attend meetings from home and I can speak to clients without them knowing I’m not in the office.

Best of all I’ve freed up the people who run my business to run it. They don’t have me there second guessing them. They are free to make changes they want to make, free to run it how they want to.  Have they made mistakes?  Yes loads. But mistakes are where great ideas come from. The business is stronger than it’s ever been. Being untethered has been the best thing that could have happened to The Recruitment Company.

Being untethered has changed my life. Its made my kids happier, its allowed me to be more active in my community, to focus on family life, to have a better social life with my wife AND it allowed me to be twice as productive at work and free up the business to smash it out of the ball park.


If you've enjoyed the read, you're a recruiter or HR professional and my blog has sparked your interest in working for a company that does flexibility really well, check out our current opportunities here  or get in contact with my colleague Sarah for a confidential chat. [email protected] 

To see the rest of this blog series (there are another 5) follow us on Linkedin

Or find out what it would be like to work for The Recruitment Company here