It’s a familiar scenario: Your meeting has run over, you miss your train home, and with only minutes to spare you arrive at your child’s nursery to be greeted by disapproving looks from the staff as yet again, little Charlie is the last one to be picked up. Your heart races and your stomach churns as an overwhelming feeling of stress and guilt takes hold. Again.
For working parents, it can often seem like there are just not enough hours in the day to cram in the daily commute, a professional career and the demands of a busy family life into a 24-hour period. And property management in particular, with its often long and irregular hours, can seem incompatible with a healthy work / life balance.
But it’s not just parents who are increasingly seeking a more family and lifestyle-friendly way of working; in fact, recent studies have shown that the majority of job seeking property managers would chose flexibility over increased income. So whether you’re a working Mum or Dad, you have a dog that needs walking at 12pm precisely, you like to go to the gym or yoga class during the day or are simply looking for an alternative work arrangement to the daily grind, here are four property management companies who are re-defining traditional employment patterns with family friendly policies and company cultures that put people first – and are rewarded with happy employees who are less stressed, more productive and more loyal than their peers.
At PXS Properties a membership in the swanky gym next door where the cast of “Made in Chelsea” hang out is included in the employment contract. And as if this wasn’t enough for cool incentives, free lunch is also thrown in for good measure. It’s no wonder that the average length of service of the company’s employees is over 10 years.
The longest serving member of the team has even made it to 18 years . This speaks volumes about the company culture. PXS Properties has been operating a flexible working policy for many years now. They have been continuously adapting to the changing needs of its team members as their lifestyle needs in general have evolved. The company offers a number of family friendly work arrangements, whether that’s working from home when needed or staff rotas that are fair and supportive and mean that no one gets stuck in the office working overtime just to catch up.
PXS has clearly perfected how to balance the needs of the business with the needs of its staff.
“Most of us are parents and we recognise that if we actively enable our staff to juggle work and life, we get far better results. The reality is that most parents have to work today, the cost of childcare is phenomenal and looking after a sick child can pretty quickly wipe out your whole annual leave. So if someone needs to work from home or leave to attend a doctor’s appointment or a nativity play, then they can because we know and we trust that they will get the job done,” says PXS Properties’ Hannah Wigglesworth.
“A flexible work approach encourages loyalty and helps us retain a high calibre of people who we would otherwise lose out on, just because they are parents,” she adds. “It just makes good business sense.”
Pod Management was launched in November last year based on the fundamental principle of flexible working. Founder and CEO David Goldberg set out to create a fun, open team environment that would attract the best talent in the business and empower them to bring the best results.
At Pod Management, you don’t have to work late to make yourself look good. But you can, if that’s how you roll and when you’re most productive. We are not rigid on working set hours or from a fixed location, thanks to the use of flexible office space across London and cloud-based IT systems that allow team members to access office files from anywhere, anytime. Essentially, employees can decide themselves where and when they will get the job done
“It’s about trust. You have to trust your staff, and a lot of that boils down to recruiting the right calibre of people. We’re an inclusive company and our staff are made to feel that they are part of the business and they have full ownership of their projects,” says Goldberg.
In the short time since the business was established, Pod Management has already attracted a diverse mix of employees, from working parents to people who simply appreciate a more flexible way of working. Goldberg believes that flexible working shouldn’t mean that you’re only option is to work less hours or part time. It’s about working smarter and adapting to an ever-evolving work environment.
“Technology is undeniably facilitating this shift in work arrangements, and while it might not be feasible across all industries, in a sector like property management where your customer is unlikely to come to your office, it’s completely viable and makes for much happier staff and a much more successful and profitable business,” he says.
And with the company growing rapidly and word of Pod Management as flexible employer getting around, the firm is fast becoming a highly sought after employer in property management to work for.
One of Nested’s key mantras is “work hard and enjoy the journey”. This ethos translates into flexible work patterns that actively promote a better work / life balance.
Take for instance ‘Work from home Wednesday’, when every staff member can work remotely. There are deliberately no meetings scheduled for the entire day, so if you need to fetch your kids from school or attend that dentist check-up you’ve been meaning to for ages, then this is the day to do it. Whilst there is a core number of hours set, employees are encouraged to be in charge of their own schedules and when and how they tick those off – and if you want to work late, you can even expense your taxi journey home.
“Lots of places say they don’t care how, when or where you do your work as long as it gets done, but this is the first place I’ve believed it. Several times being able to work later/from home etc. has really helped and made it much easier to keep my life on track,” says one employee.
How’s that for positive feedback? Staff welfare is something the company evidently takes very seriously, and a dedicated employee engagement platform ensures that the lines of communication are always open.
“Our staff know that they are trusted to get the job done without being micro-managed, but that support is there if they need it,” says Nested’s Katie Shanahan.
Other perks at Nested include private health insurance, reduced gym membership and access to meditation and yoga sessions as part of its staff wellbeing programme – no wonder that in just over a year of being established, Nested’s work force has gone from 6 to 75 and counting.
“Ultimately, if you can be flexible with your staff, then the rewards are great, you get a motivated and loyal team that work hard and bring great results,” says Shanahan.
“Flexible working is part and parcel of the modern workplace and employers will have to adapt if they want to get the best out of their people – and attract the best people,” she says.
How does a little trip to Miami, South Africa or skiing in Verbier, Switzerland sound? At Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward trips like these are a part of an annual incentive scheme aimed at rewarding staff and strong performance within the divisions. Other perks are regular socials, balls and team building events such as canoeing on the Thames, which all add up to creating a tight knit and motivated work force. Retention at KFH is high – in fact, the longest serving member of the company recently retired after 30 years, which must mean the firm is doing something right.
KFH was one of the forerunners in adapting flexible work patterns over 20 years ago, and now an official working from home day a week is included in the shift patterns of its block managers.
“Part of our agreed staff schedule is that everyone can work a day from home a week, one day on-site and three days in the office, and this pattern seems to serve everyone well and provides a good balance,” says Managing Director Richard Benson.
“Technology plays a big part, and every one of our staff is equipped with laptops, iPads and iPhones so they are contactable and can work from various locations,” he adds.
KFH’s staff profile is diverse but working mums in particular appreciate the more flexible and supportive environment the company offers, making up one third of all female property managers employed there.
“Being flexible and adaptable is the way forward, not just in our sector, but generally,” says Benson. “
As long as everyone works to agreed schedules and targets, then you get a lot more out of your staff if you trust them and give them the tools to perform at their best.”