Back in 2015 when Mark Smith and Andrew Moore first decided to found a consultancy committed to the shared values of quality, high-value change and applied innovation for NHS clients, the threat of a global pandemic was quite low on the list of imminent threats, both to a new business and the UK populace.
As part of their plan to deliver on those shared values, however, they decided not to invest in an office. Working remotely, they thought, made more sense. It gave them the flexibility to be in as many places as they had employees. They could be supporting a merger in Mersey, running a PMO in Surrey, assuring QIPP schemes on the Isle of Wight and doing a dozen other things all at once, without a travel bill for the client to pick up or a carbon bill for the planet.
They could approach organizations and nurture talent all over the country, all without condemning a new generation of management support staff to the wearing drudgery of an imposed (and often unnecessary) commute. They would still travel to client sites of course, but only when they needed to. Obviously, they were not the first to have the idea, but they were certainly in a minority of companies with the confidence and the trust in their teams to deliver outside of a traditional business environment. They put these ideas into practice at a time when even the hip digital agencies of Shoreditch were nauseous at the thought, (despite protesting otherwise).
This flexibility and the implied trust that came with it was part of what drew me to Clarity, and it continues to make working for them a joy. Here a work-life balance isn’t some intangible promise buried in a policy never to be delivered, but a daily reality. It’s how we work and how we have always worked. The job gets done. Some days, so does the washing.
As such, the adaptation to home-working during a global health crisis has been as minimal as it could have been (but for the additions of home-schooling and a few added family members). But here the intrinsic value of work-life balance means there is an implicit understanding that the environments in which people are trying to work are different, along with the stressors and the pressures that come with them. It means that no matter how demanding the project or how tight the deadline, we understand that our own psychological and emotional wellbeing is more important, and that kindness and understanding for ourselves, each other and our clients is as essential as any service we deliver.