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Department for Transport on Smart Working

Category: testimonial

The words Flexible working on red VERCIDA branded background

Smart Working: taking control of my work/life balance

Geoff Hawker, Group Finance

I joined the Department for Transport (DfT) in January 2017 on a two-year secondment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). What surprised me was that one of the first pre-joining discussions with my soon-to-be line manager was about how we could make a flexible/smart working pattern work.

Why the conversation was important

I’ll explain a little of my background. I’m based in Warrington, Cheshire, close to Liverpool and the new Mersey Gateway Bridge. My wife also travels with work and while my daughter’s away at University, we (thankfully) only have to deal with one stroppy teenager - my son who’s preparing for his GCSE exams later this spring. 

Knowing my role at DfT would require some time in London, I wanted to ensure I could maintain my work/life balance and do my dad-duties by providing pearls of wisdom and offering some coaching to my son while he’s studying. Discussing this openly with my new manager was great and we agreed the days that I’ll work in London, allowing for some flexibility for meetings with stakeholders.

While I still can’t help with my son’s maths homework every day, it’s provided me with a lot of freedom to chip in and also means that I now know the West Coast Main Line really/too well! Even the Warrington station manager greets me most mornings – service with a smile as they say!

Changing perceptions

I’ve previously worked with large teams who have been geographically spread over nine locations, so remote working comes relatively naturally to me

In my first week in the role, a new colleague approached me to arrange a process review meeting and mentioned that ‘I only work 3 days a week – Monday, Tuesday & Thursday.’ At first, I wondered whether the person thought I’d introduced a new working pattern of doing five days in three, but after a short conversation I explained how we could use Skype to review the process maps in real-time rather than having to wait until I’m in London. 

It was a somewhat surprising conversation, but just highlighted some of the challenges DfT has started to overcome as we look to develop our culture of being more inclusive and allowing more flexible (and smarter) working.

Trust and communication

A little bit of logistical forward-planning can make a difference to the way we work together as well. For instance, when preparing for the Annual Report & Accounts last year, I remotely reviewed the financial statements in my study (using a set-up not dissimilar that in the photo to the right) while my team used a very big-screen TV in a meeting room so we could all walk through the numbers together - it was a really effective use of time and another example of how our technology can really help collaboration wherever we are.

My advice to anyone who’s interested in exploring new work styles is to have a chat with your manager and just give it go!

Are you interested in a career with Department for Transport? Please click here!

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email info@vercida.com for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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