Choosing How To Work: Molly Johnson-Jones

by | Feb 16, 2022

The freedom to choose how to work

Molly Johnson-Jones shared a post on LinkedIn that stated ‘“By removing the need to have a ‘reason’ to request flexibility and giving everyone the freedom to choose how to work, we can make true progress on gender equality.” but how do we get that out of our hiring leaders?

While Molly, CEO & Co-founder of Flexa, enjoyed London’s winter sun, and I only had the heat of the topic to keep me warm, we covered loads including:

  • the motivation behind creating Flexa, a platform where employers can be verified as offering true flexibility to their people
  • surprising survey results that show both men and women almost equally, want the freedom to choose how to work
  • the two paths to getting your leaders to see that offering flexible & hybrid working is inevitable
  • the challenges that some leaders face when trusting employees and measuring output instead of presenteeism
  • Molly’s own lessons-learned running a truly flexible business where the team decide how to work.
  • What is and most definitely isn’t a 4 day week!

Grab a cuppa, pen and paper and settle in! ✍🏻

 

Full Transcript: Molly Johnson-Jones –  Choosing How To Work

Katrina Collier:
Molly Johnson-Jones, welcome to The Hiring Partner Perspective podcast, proudly supported by the beautiful people at WORQDRIVE. Welcome. Welcome. I love the fact you’re sitting in the sun while you’re doing this. I’m quite jealous.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I know. It’s very nice. It’s quite unusual for January at the moment, isn’t it?

Katrina Collier:
I know. You’ve just got the perfect spot, though we are having lovely London weather, aren’t we? For people who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and of course, how you started your business and all that kind of stuff? Give us some background.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Absolutely. I am the CEO and co-founder of Flexa Careers, which is a talent attraction and employer brand platform that focuses specifically on companies with great working environments. As a pretty broad catch-all, that would be what we consider to be flexible working, but obviously that’s evolved a hell of a lot over the last two years. So that can be location, hours, dog-friendly offices, enhanced parental leave, work from anywhere schemes, all sorts of benefits that would also impact the flexibility of people’s lives.

We shine a spotlight on those companies. We verify them as flexible to make sure that it’s not just paying lip service to the idea of it, but it’s genuinely a flexible culture. We showcase those companies on our platform, and we drive users that are searching for that flexibility, which is obviously 81% of all office workers looking for a remote or hybrid or fully flexible role. And we started in or launched in September, 2020. And we’ve already grown to around 330,000 users in 57 different countries, with 130 companies in 12 different countries. Obviously, the demand has been amazing.

Flexa - choosing how to work

Katrina Collier:
That’s amazing. Perfectly timed, almost.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, it really was.

Katrina Collier:
The pandemic must have served you quite well.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I know. We feel very lucky for that.

The freedom to choose how to work

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. I know, it’s bizarre, isn’t it? But staggeringly, there are still companies that are completely stuck, which I find quite weird. But the reason I got in touch with you, much as we already knew each other, was you had the article that came out. It was for BBC, wasn’t it? BBC Worklife.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah.

Katrina Collier:
And it was one of the comments that you had made in there about by removing the need to have a reason to request flexibility and giving everyone the freedom to choose how to work, we can make true progress on gender equality. I wondered if you wanted to talk a bit more about that.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. My own personal experience massively, obviously, influences my own opinions, as it does with everybody. But it’s a pretty stark-

Katrina Collier:
Of course.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Pretty stark experience I had when I was working in investment banking. I asked about from from home one day a week because I have an autoimmune disease that means that sometimes I’m quite immobile. Like, I can’t walk and my joints swell up, but I’m still fine to work. I just can’t get into an office. But it was back in 2016 when flexibility was not normal.

It was something that you might find if you were lucky. And they said they were open to flexible working requests. So I thought, well, I’ll post a request in then. And 10 days later, they put a settlement package in front of me, sacked me, and told me to leave immediately. Yeah. I was 23. I felt very much like it was my fault. I think, as you do when you’re young and you don’t know what the world is really like.

Katrina Collier:
Oh my God, I shouldn’t have told anybody that, I was so silly. What was I thinking? How dare I be honest? Yeah, I know. It’s mad.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. And I was there. And because of that, exactly as you say, like, I shouldn’t have said anything. I then went through job hunting of various different roles feeling very uncomfortable having to justify why I needed to work flexibly. And I eventually just stopped telling people because it made me be seen very differently and be treated … Got othered, for lack of a better term.

Like, I couldn’t work in a normal way so I was therefore less able. And I also saw that not just through disability and illness, but I saw it happening all the time with women who would say, “Can I work flexible hours to pick up my children?” Or somebody if they had a dog, for example, and they needed to drop them off at doggy daycare, people would laugh and say like, “Your dog is not that important. Why should it impact your working hours?”

Katrina Collier:
I’m sorry, but that’s incorrect.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Dogs are the most important.

Katrina Collier:
Yes. And then children. Alienates half my listeners, but everyone knows I’m dog mad. But yeah. And also full-time carers as well.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Full-time carers. I think particularly as well, it’s really, really hard on men who want to work flexibly as well because they don’t feel like they necessarily have a reason, in inverted commas, to ask for it. So, they don’t avail of it. And what we saw that was very interesting, we did a YouGov survey with over 10,000 people, was that after a year of the pandemic, the demand for flexible working from men had become pretty much equal, three percentage point separated from women, because they’d suddenly been allowed to work flexibly and they didn’t have to justify it.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And that to me is so much proof that if you stop making people give a reason to ask for flexibility and they can just avail of it, then it levels the playing fields. Because suddenly everybody is treated the same and men and women and people with disabilities, or without disabilities, people with dogs, people with children, caring responsibilities, everything, they are able to manage those commitments and manage who they are, and thrive without needing to be put in a box and treated in different ways. And that, to me, is the only progress.

Katrina Collier:
I’d never really thought about it from the male perspective. Because actually, it sort of was like, well, man goes to work. I’m going back to my parents’ generation, ’50s, man goes to work, woman stays at home. Which of course, my mother didn’t. She worked full-time, but takes care of the kids. And that thing of actually almost like you have to work, you have to support. And you’re also reminding me of my Uber driver that I had. He was running a restaurant in Greenwich, 200 covers, really full-on stressful. And he just realised when he was sent home …

Ah, speaking of dogs. Molly has just pulled her dog up onto her lap. That joy of working from home. And he realised when he was forced into lockdown that he didn’t know who his son was. He just went, “Here’s this six year old son. I don’t know him.” And that was that. He just, I’m not doing it anymore. He works around his son, driving an Uber, being flexible.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And that’s, I think, that kind of progress, and it’s that sudden realisation that those gender norms or those norms of working, they don’t have to exist. And I think as we start to embrace flexibility as more of the norm, the questions that women get asked like, “Oh, who is looking after the children while you’re at work?” And men don’t get asked those questions. There’s those kind of different things.

And hopefully, that those expectations and those stereotypes will start to dissipate. And eventually, we can stop thinking in boxed ways of living and doing, and just allow people to work in a way to works for them.

Katrina Collier:
I’m looking forward to seeing that. I think, because I do feel like the patriarchy is starting to fall and things have changed, and the pandemic sped that up. It sped it up, and people are just like, “I’ve had enough. I want the change.” It’s quite exciting. Now I come across recruiters all the time, so obviously this podcast is for recruiters to partner better with hiring managers, et cetera.

And they’re saying to me, “Our company has not set its hybrid working policy and therefore we’re just struggling to recruit.” Or actually worse, it’s going to be back in the office. Now I appreciate that some companies have to have staff in the office. Could be a factory, et cetera. But for knowledge workers especially, what can recruiters do? How can they change that conversation or start to change the minds of those hiring leaders around?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
It is an incredibly frustrating conversation to have to have. I occasionally have it with people. I feel like banging my head against a brick wall. It’s like, open your eyes, please. This is crazy. But you know, there are people who are uncomfortable with change. I think the most important thing to remember with this kind of thing is there has been a paradigm shift that would never otherwise have happened at the pace that it has, and human beings are naturally afraid of the unknown. And I think that one of the best ways that you can try to influence senior leadership to become more flexible or make a commitment … I think there are two ways.

You can either go down the trying to prove that it’s not a step into the unknown. Here are lots of different ways that companies just like ours have done it. You can find obviously loads of information about the flexibility of different companies on Flexa if you are a recruitment company or whatever.

Katrina Collier:
On Flexa Careers.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah.

Katrina Collier:
Plug, plug.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Then you can see what they’re doing. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take a step into enabling people to work anytime, anywhere, anyhow. That is a level of flexibility and it’s at one end of the spectrum, and we’re obviously seeing companies do that, but there is another end of the spectrum which is a more, I guess, controlled level of flexibility, which is that hybrid, like we’re going to be in the office two days a week and out of the office three days a week.

We’re going to have core hours of 10:00 til 4:00 or 11:00 til 3:00 and work around that and set that framework because it starts to feel less unknown and more like, well, I can control this. So I would say if you have got senior leadership that are clearly uncomfortable and pushing back, don’t try to make them adopt the flexibility on the really far end of the spectrum-

Katrina Collier:
Yeah, in the style of the far end.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And me too. And I think that’s great, and it’s how we work. But it’s not for everybody. And over time, it could be a journey of incremental increase in flexibility. You start making a minimum commitment, which is what we always say. Everybody definitely can work from home two days a week, and everybody …

Our core hours are 10:00 til 4:00, and you work around that as you wish. That’s a good place to start. See how that goes. Let them get comfortable with that, and then work your way up as to the time, way of working that works for your company productivity and obviously balances business needs as well.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah, well I think-

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I think the second thing to do is scare them.

Katrina Collier:
Oh, yes. The other. We can’t hire.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
You want to scare them. Yeah. Say, there’s 81% of people want flexibility. If you’re looking at office workers, knowledge workers around the world, that’s 800 million people that want flexibility. If you don’t offer it, people are just going to leave and then they’re not going to come to you. We talk about the Great Resignation, where about 60% of people are thinking about leaving their jobs. They’re just biding their time. You have to look at your workforce as precarious.

Katrina Collier:
Oh yeah, there’s a whole of [crosstalk 00:11:51] happening right now. They’re holding out for those, truly.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Exactly. Exactly. They are. And some of them will hold out til April time. And then eventually, it’s just going to start disappearing and there’s going to be this reshuffle. And I think what senior leadership need to understand and be talked through is this concept of the great reshuffle. Which they’re like, if we’ve got 60% of the workforce that’s currently precarious, they’re thinking, “I’m sitting here and I might leave.” They’re going to be looking for companies that will then offer them what they want. If you are not offering any form of flexibility in this game of musical chairs, you’re going to have no one sitting on you.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah, bye.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, exactly. No one one is going to choose your chair. They just don’t want you. They would rather freelance than work for you.

Katrina Collier:
Exactly. And they can, because there’s all the tools and technology out there now to allow that to happen as well.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, they can. Yeah.

Katrina Collier:
It’s really interesting, isn’t it? Because the people are right there. You just need to go and talk to them and ask them ultimately what they’re looking for. And I think the vast majority do want some form of hybrid. They don’t really want to be fully remote or fully in-person. I mean, there are people at either end of the spectrum, of course. But people are there. Talk to them.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. And they want that hybrid, which is an easy thing to grapple with. We survey, or when a user onboards with Flexa, we ask them about their flexible working preferences. We have tens of thousands of user data points on what they want. And 68% of people want hybrid working. 24% of people want fully remote, never go into an office again. And 8% of people want to go into an office all the time.

Katrina Collier:
Just eight.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
But 68% of people want hybrid. Just eight.

Katrina Collier:
Just eight.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. Just eight. But there are about 20% of companies that are expecting people to be in the office all the time. So, there’s that 8 to 20%. That’s a massive disparity. That’s not going to work.

Katrina Collier:
No. And you just think if you’re recruiting in STEM, for example, where there’s such a shortage of people, or even healthcare, and you are saying we only want the 8% that want to come into the office. You’re just so narrowing down your talent pool.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. And often … And obviously this is a large generalisation. I’m not insulting the people that want to be in the office all the time. But often the best people are the ones that are demanding more flexibility because they know they can. That’s a broad generalisation, but-

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. Yeah. Or, yeah. Because I imagine some people who want to go into the office are escaping … Well actually, like you guys have just got an office because you were working from your kitchen table and you need a separate space. There may be people like that. But yeah, no, I hear what you’re saying. Yeah. Interesting, isn’t it? I feel for companies, I just don’t know how they’re going to manage people hybridly as well. I think this is a whole other-

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I know.

Katrina Collier:
How are they going to do it? Because you’ve heard of companies putting monitoring software on their employees’ computers.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Oh, I know.

Katrina Collier:
I know. Because you can’t see Molly’s face, she just raised one eyebrow. It was beautifully timed. We’re like, oh my God. But that, or leaving Zoom windows open, or … Oh, it’s just crazy.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. Or you read the horror stories of somebody … I can’t remember who I was speaking to. Maybe it was an article I read. Pretty sure it was in-person. They were made to have their cameras on for 10 hours a day so that their boss could watch where they were. Like, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.

Katrina Collier:
Imagine if you forgot, you just suddenly start picking your nose or something. They are really embarrassing.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I think it’s just terrible. I think there has to be that switch towards that focus. Like, management does become harder because it’s different. Instead of that idea of presenteeism, someone is in the office so oh, they’re definitely working. That’s the assumption that we’ve gone on for the past 50, 60 years since it has been totally normal to look at productivity.

And now, it has to be output based, like what are you actually achieving and succeeding with? And it would concern me if somebody was in the office all the time, but they weren’t actually doing what they needed to do and had their productivity. Whereas if somebody is working for four hours a day, but they are just so unbelievably productive, they’re being measured on output, they can do that if they want to. And that’s the world that we need to move to.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
But again, it’s that fear of the unknown. I’m sure some companies are wondering how they train their managers to measure output. How do we move away from monitoring somebody in-person to understanding what they’re doing remotely? And I think it all comes back to trust.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. It’s funny you say that. Because it just reminds me back in the recruitment agency days where some people would be in at 7:00 and sitting there til 7:00, and they were doing next to no work, but they were physically present. They look like … I used to walk out the door at 5:30 because it was like, that’s what my contract says.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
That’s it. Yeah. Exactly. I sat behind a guy that used to watch BBC Sport all morning when I was working in research and stuff. I do find that really interesting, that he was then seen as a really hard worker because he was in at 7:00.

Katrina Collier:
And nobody noticed except you.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
No one noticed, because I was directly behind him.

Katrina Collier:
And of course, if you had said something, they wouldn’t have believed you, probably.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, exactly. Because he was in … Oh he’s so committed. He’s in every morning. I think it just has to be about trust, though. An actual empowering your own employees to manage their own time and their own workloads rather than measuring input. You say about recruitment. It’s a really, really good example is what used to happen is the number of outbound calls you made would be measured, or the number of emails you’ve sent would be measured. But that’s input and that’s time.

Whereas why isn’t what’s measured placements, or relationships built, or clients onboarded? That’s the world that we need to move to, is output. Because if somebody has a conversion rate of 70% from call to actually onboarding a client or making a placement, then they should be rewarded, not the people that make 100 calls and have a 7% conversion rate.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. And that’s exactly the same for emails. When recruiters are targeted on how many they basically spray and pray at people, and hope someone will respond. And half the reason people are so fed up when they’re on LinkedIn. “Oh, great. Another irrelevant message from a recruiter.” But you’re right. I used to have that problem back in the day as well because I wouldn’t make the call numbers, but I’d be hitting my target every month. Oh, joy. Joy.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. Through output, not input.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if you have any client examples of it. How are we building that trust? Have you had any clients say, “Oh my God, how am I going to do this?” Or are they not vulnerable?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
There have definitely been a couple of clients that, they’ve embraced flexibility from pretty early on. And then they have had some people abuse that a little bit, which is a sad story because I don’t think it’s common. I think actually often people will work harder if they’re given more choice and more freedom and the ability to control their environment.

But they have found that some people may abuse that, and turn up to meetings late, or not at all because they’re working from home and they’ve gone to the pub. But I think again, that comes back to a lack of measuring the right things. If someone feels driven and motivated and they’ve got targets to hit or deadlines, then it’s pretty inescapable. You either are doing your work or you aren’t.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I think it’s about trust from day one. So, always assume the best for a while. Don’t assume the worst in the first instance. And then over time, obviously if after a month you’re trying to assume the best but it’s not really working, then get rid of them.

I am an advocate for hiring fast and firing fast if it doesn’t work. I think the really protracted, seven stage interviews that try to get to the bottom of every thought that you’ve ever had in the workplace is not useful. You get a sense for somebody, you hire them. If it doesn’t work out, you move on. And I think that-

Katrina Collier:
And please ditch that question about where do you see yourself in five years? Because none of us in January, 2020 saw this.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
No. And no one knows. I never, never saw starting Flexa coming five years ago. No way. I think that one of the best ways that you can start with trust is realising you have probation periods for a reason. You build trust with that person. If it works out great, then you’ve got somebody who can work flexibly, they can meet the targets, work with the managers that you’ve hired, create the output that you need.

And if it doesn’t, then it’s not the right environment for either of you and you move on. I think that one of the problems that companies have is that very … The legacy employees that they get stuck with and they think, well they’ve always worked in an office so they couldn’t possibly adapt. It’s like, well, give them the benefit of the doubt and see how it goes.

Katrina Collier:
I’ve been saying this a lot for my generation, because it’s really funny. There has been so much focus on the Boomers, and they’re coming up retiring, and the Millennials, who obviously we just have to make huge claims. Like, they love avocado toast and all that sort of rubbish. You know, I do feel for Millennials. They’ve been quite picked on. Then there’s Gen X in the middle. We’ve been quite overlooked. And I’ve been saying since …

Oh, I mean, going back. I did a DisruptHR talk on it. Just the fact that so many have actually left the workforce with their ability to communicate, because they’re pre-technology taking over, and they can use technology to work really flexibly, be a knowledge worker, deliver back to companies and all this sort of stuff.

Katrina Collier:
So many companies haven’t noticed. When you talk about the people that are staying that maybe you don’t really want to be the ones that want to stay, these sort of staid, stale employees, but just there’s …

Yeah. It’ll be really interesting when the Boomers that are retiring, because they actually are going, “I don’t want to go back.” The pandemic has made them retire. And these companies are going to go, “I have no leaders,” because their Gen X have left and they haven’t noticed yeah. This little sandwiched generation in the middle.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. That was neglected in so many different ways. No one ever talks about your generation.

Katrina Collier:
Exactly. We eat avocado toast too. I swear, I’m so Millennial, it’s ridiculous, if I listen to any of that bollocks. But actually, I’m curious how you and your co-founder have found it, if you both do actually just work totally flexibly? What have been your lessons, learning to communicate, or just so that you do deliver? Because day like today, you could just decide to be sitting in the park in the sun as well.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
I know. I think it’s really interesting because I think when you own a company and it’s your baby, you just keep working. There’s the constant fear of it not working, and that keeps you going. What I find is very interesting, and definitely something that we’ve worked really hard on, is getting our team as …

Well, not as. I think it’s unrealistic to expect them to be as bought-in as you, but with a level of bought-inness that means that they also want to really push and be as productive as possible. And we’ve tried to create the best possible working environment for people to do that. And we’ve always listened. We’ve asked people what they want.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
We’ve tried to encompass as much as we possibly can from them. And I think we’ve always started with that kind of culture of trust. A couple of people, it hasn’t worked out, which is absolutely fine. They needed more structure. But we also have found people that are delighted to be working fully remotely from various different areas of the UK. We come together in London once a month. That’s the only mandatory time that we have to be together.

They can come and use the office if they otherwise want to, but there is no expectation. We work a four and a half day week, which is lovely. Gives people Friday afternoon off. And I think that’s such a big impact on work-life balance. Our core hours are 11:00 til 3:00. Some people start at 11:00, some people start at 7:00. There’s total freedom. And I think that then, because we’ve given so much in terms of autonomy, people naturally, hopefully, do want to give back.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And one of the biggest learnings I think that I’ve had from making sure that they’re still a really strong team is making sure that people know each other, and whether that’s through Slack or …

We have a really, really active Slack channel. Some of it is just total nonsense, like conspiracy theories and memes. And when we have our team day once a month, we don’t really do work, per se. It’s like strategy in the morning and then we’ll go to the pub, we’ll play crazy golf or darts or something in the afternoon. And we try to help people to build their own relationships as well.

Because I think then when everybody feels part of something and genuinely involved in it, that’s when remote and truly flexible working can work really well, because you don’t feel like you are just a cog in a big machine and you’re not being rewarded or noticed for it. I think a lot of it is about recognition, and about relationships, and about teamwork, and that can be built just as strongly remotely.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. I agree. And I think the thing that you kept saying there really is that mission. If you can get people in on it, they want to be productive.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, exactly. And as long as you reward them for it and recognise it as well, it doesn’t that have to be … I think a lot of companies are slightly alarmed at the moment. Obviously, inflation is going up quite strongly.

Katrina Collier:
Isn’t it?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
That means obviously wages are going to have to go up. Which of course, they should do. But also then people are asking for more and more bonuses. There is massive wage increases because it’s harder to hire talent, and obviously pay is an enormous part of it. And everybody deserves to be paid very fairly. But reward isn’t just about pay.

And I think a lot of companies forget that people need to be recognised. If they do a great job, why not send them their favourite thing? With Chris, our sales guy who does really well, he loves steaks. So, we send him a box of steak in the post. [Shannon 00:26:16], our marketing manager, loves cider. So we send her some cider. You can reward-

Katrina Collier:
You can pretty much deliver everything.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Exactly. Which is great for a remote team. But there’s those small bits of recognition as well that I think help to create those bonds in a remote company. And I think that’s often overlooked because it’s seen as very small, when actually, it’s probably one of the most human parts of being in a team and working together.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. Just saying thank you sometimes, isn’t it?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah, exactly.

Katrina Collier:
As well. And-

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Rather than just people expecting to do it because it’s their job. Yes it is, but equally you can be grateful if they do a good job.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s interesting. Suzanne Lucas was on the podcast two ago, and we were talking about these companies who can’t afford to raise salaries who are going to a four-day week, or potentially could do that, because that’s basically a 20% increase, isn’t it? But it was also about making sure that then the four-day week is a four-day week. And you set boundaries and all the sorts of things that you sound like you’ve put in place.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. There have to be boundaries. And the four-day week thing, I think it can be very misleading. Everybody always says, “Well, [inaudible 00:27:29] did a successful, flexible four-day week trial.” They didn’t. What they did-

Katrina Collier:
The managers still got in touch by email on their day off.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
But it also wasn’t four days. They reduced hours from 40, the usual, to 35, but that was still spread over five days. It was just shorter. When everybody raves about the four-day week … And I do think it’s achievable. I do, but it needs to be genuine. It can’t just be-

Katrina Collier:
Genuine four-day week.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
But also, what if somebody … Because often with a four-day week, it’s like, well, we don’t work Friday, because there’s not a massive loss of productivity because often, Fridays, people don’t really work past 3:00.

Katrina Collier:
Be honest.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And often, people will have a hangover on a Friday morning. Really, Fridays are not the most productive day in the world. But a lot of companies are like, “Oh, we’re going to do a genuine four-day week when people can choose the day that they have off.” And I think all of those, that’s going to cause a lot of teething problems. And I think eventually, the excitement of what the four-day week can be …

I worry that if it’s not done well, it will just roll back and we’ll lose all of that progress.

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. I think it needs to be also … Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your clients need to know when you’re available. If your company does Monday to Thursday, that’s the four days, they also have the “Oh, okay. Well actually, we know they don’t work on Friday, so we understand we won’t hear from them until Monday.” It’s that expectation as well. It would make it easier.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
And it depends on the company. I think especially as a startup, we would really struggle not to do Friday mornings. It’s so busy. It’s just not realistic at this point in time for us to be able to try and achieve that. I’m sure for some companies it is. And I’m not saying that-

Katrina Collier:
Obviously, it’s going to be based on that, yeah.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah. And I hate it when people are like, “God, I’m so busy,” but it is genuine. We couldn’t take another half day off it.

Katrina Collier:
Well, [crosstalk 00:29:22]. I’m really proud of you for taking time off. It took me a really long time to take time off. I found it really hard. I would be like, oh my God, if I’m not working all the time, I would feel guilty. I’d actually feel sick that I wasn’t working my way. Because it’s hard, starting the business and getting the momentum, and then … But you have to.

And it’s like this, but if I take time off … And the little voice in your head going, “Stop, stop, go back to work.” And you’re like, no, I really need to stop or I’m going to burn out. Yeah. It’s tough.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
It’s really hard. And I really noticed we actually decided to do company shutdown periods. The whole company has the last week of August off. And the whole company has from the 23rd of December until the 3rd of January off. And that’s additional to the 25 days’ holiday. People get 36 days plus bank holidays.

And the reason that we did that is because A, it’s great way to not disrupt business continuity, but to give people extra holiday without the complete lie that it’s unlimited annual leave, because doesn’t work.

Katrina Collier:
Nobody takes that anyway. I actually saw a post about that earlier. And I was like, but nobody takes it.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
No. People end up taking less holiday, according to studies. But that allowed us to actually take a break over Christmas and New Year. And it was the first time that I’d had more than four days off consecutively in two years.

And I noticed when I came back, I was actually quite looking forward to going back to work, which was not a feeling that I’d necessarily had. I never dreaded it, because it’s your own business, but sometimes you do feel quite overwhelmed and you’re like, “God, I’m so tired. I just don’t want to get out of bed this morning.” Whereas I didn’t feel that anymore. And I was making better decisions, and as much as-

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. Your head clears, doesn’t it?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Your head clears, exactly. And I think there’s also just a low level of anxiety and stress that I think you have, starting a business, that you never really realise is there until it goes away. It’s funny. I never really thought of myself as an anxious person. And then I took the time off and I was like, “Oh, Christ. Actually, I’ve just been this ball of anxiety and stress for two years.”

Katrina Collier:
Yeah. Because it’s a constant, I’ve got to bring in more clients, got to pay those bills, bring in more clients, got to pay bills. It’s a cycle, and it keeps going. It keeps going. It just gets bigger. That kind of thing. That would be the post person. Is that some of that cider getting delivered?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Yeah.

Katrina Collier:
I’m amazed that my two haven’t gone off. And behind me, Molly would have been watching my dogs walking around. And amazingly, neither one of them has barked. I can’t believe it. If people want to know more about you and what you’re doing, where’s the best place that we send them so that they can get some more information?

Molly Johnson-Jones:
If you’re interested in Flexa, either as a company and getting discovered for being a great working environment, or if you are looking for a job or considering moving, you don’t even have to be active, then check out. It’s Flexa.Careers.

Or if you’d like to connect with me or ask me anything about what you should be doing with your company to become more flexible … “Oh, we’ve had this question from senior leadership and I don’t know how to answer it,” then please do connect with me on LinkedIn. That’s my most active platform. And I tend to post some pretty strong opinions on there as well.

Katrina Collier:
And occasionally, she might post old BBC photos. That’s so makes me laugh. I love the way you did that. “I was at the BBC. Just at this time. It’s just getting your attention.” It totally did. Because I was like, “Oh my God, you have to come on the podcast and talk about this.” But yeah, I need to do more of that stuff.

Katrina Collier:
Anyway, thank you so, so much for sharing all of this information. I really appreciate it, and I will make sure all your contact details are below. Thanks, Molly.

Molly Johnson-Jones:
Thank you so much for having me. It has been a great chat.

Katrina Collier:
Thank you for listening to The Hiring Partner Perspective unedited podcast, proudly supported by the people at WORQDRIVE. Hopefully, you really enjoyed what you heard and have left feeling inspired. And if so, I would love your help to create real change. Please pass this podcast onto your hiring leaders and other recruiters in HR. Even share it on your social channels, if you feel so inclined. The more reach we can get, the more change we can create. So please remember to subscribe, of course, on your favourite podcast platform. And do you come and say hello, @HiringPartnerPerspective on Instagram, where I share behind the scenes of what’s going on. Until next time, thank you.

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