Flexible working: a matter of intelligence

flex intelligenceI’m Nigel Slater and I lead Management Consulting at KPMG. I also sponsor intelligent working at KPMG. Intelligent working refers to any working schedule that’s outside the traditional working pattern, focusing on the outcomes rather than the time that we all work.

Intelligent working aligns to the future of work, which demands that we work much more cleverly, increase mobility and flexibility, because the workforce is changing. By 2020, three-quarters of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, and pretty much all of those people want flexibility in their job. Don’t we all? We must respond and really find where, and how, and what work means and how it takes place, focusing on those outcomes rather than the hours that we work.

All of our clients have their own intelligent working, and at KPMG, in every area of the firm, we have several examples – we call them ‘Real Models’ – who dispel the myths and show it does work. Some of the myths about intelligent working I hear from time to time include ‘Clients don’t like it’, ‘It will impact my career as I’m less likely to be promoted’, or ‘I’ll end up working five days in four’. These are all myths and are dispelled by our Real Models and our work with Clients.

We must be more explicit and transparent about our intelligent working offering, enabling us to recruit, promote, and retain the highest-performing teams. This means when we open our vacancies we state upfront that we are happy to hire talent on a flexible basis, ensuring we compete for the best people from the broadest talent pools.

High engagement is key to delivering to our Clients. We can build great leadership, hire top people, develop and coach them, but if they do not like their jobs because we don’t offer the flexibility they seek, then they will not perform at their best.

Intelligent working increases diversity improving KPMG’s understanding of our marketplace and our Clients with greater creativity and problem-solving making us a better business.

I want to be part of a thriving, successful business. This needs great, talented people, people motivated to help Clients and help each other, able to do this in the most effective way as part of their normal life, with much less rigid boundaries.

Don’t tell anybody, but I work from home. I take my children to school, I go to school events; I go to the gym. I move meetings around to accommodate this. Actually, tell everybody I do that. But I’m also in contact and my smartphone is my office; I’m always just a text away.

These arrangements work best when you’re transparent. It’s a two-way relationship with true flexibility on both sides. This is the new normal in the marketplace for KPMG. We are open and we expect intelligent working. Formal, informal, short term, long term, agile and part time arrangements – we have to make this work. All of my Clients embrace flexibility in their organisations because they also want to get the most from their people. My Clients are international, so agile working, accommodating different time zones, is just a reality, but the outcome for the client is the same because we’re not an input-based business; we’re an intelligent business.

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