Crosby formerly worked as an associate in the finance team at Slaughter and May in London dealing with a wide range of high value finance transactions. Part of the reason she established Tax Pooling was that she could see that transactional finance work didn't mesh particularly well with parenthood. Tax Pooling, an IRD approved tax pooling intermediary, uses innovative tax pooling and financing solutions to reduce clients' tax bills and access competitively priced funding. With a CEO and some full time staff, it is now four years old and growing fast. Crosby has three children aged four, two and one. She works three days in the office and most nights. She recently completed the Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp run by Global Women.
How many hours do you work in any given day?
If I am in the office I work from about 9am till 4pm but I also log in most evenings. Owning the business has been a bit like having a fourth child - I spend a lot of time thinking about it even when I am not technically working.
What are the benefits for Tax Pooling offering flexible working?
The two main benefits for us have been that we have been able to hire talented, highly qualified people who might not have otherwise been available to us and we have been able to ensure that the business has had the right level of resourcing without committing to a large fixed overhead during a high growth period.
How do you find your staff?
We initially tried to recruit through online job sites but this wasn't very successful because it was difficult to target the right candidates. We have found our best people by putting the word out that we were recruiting and getting personal referrals.
What calibre people have you managed to hire?
Two of our employees are chartered accountants with experience in senior roles at big four accounting firms in New Zealand and overseas. Full-time roles in private practice didn't work for them at this stage in their careers. In return for flexible working arrangements, we get the benefits of their wealth of experience.
Do working mothers always need to have flexible working hours?
No, I think that is a generalisation. Individual circumstances are different and there are lots of working parents who neither need nor want flexible working arrangements. However, I think there are also a large number of qualified and talented parents (mainly mothers) who would like to return to the workforce but factors like the nature of their partner's job, age of their children, childcare options and lack of extended family support, mean that locking themselves into a set 40-50 hour week isn't a realistic or attractive option. It's a pity because the NZ economy misses out on some great people both in the short-term and often in the longer term when these people are ready to ramp up their careers again but find it difficult to do so after extended periods out of the workforce.
Can your flexible workers put all hands to the pump when need be?
Yes. It comes down to the type of person you employ rather than the hours they work. A committed and conscientious person will be all hands to the pump whenever they can be. I think it is a matter of communication and creating a culture that supports flexible working, which is something our CEO has done really well. Flexible working has to be a two way street. If the employer is flexible and lets the employee work reduced hours over school holidays for example, then I think the employee also needs to be flexible and pick up the slack when they can at other times. It's about creating a team where everyone is working towards the same goal and is willing to pitch in when they can. It can be easier to create this culture in a small business with a tight team than in a big corporate.
What would your advice be to other SME owners about flexible working?
Definitely consider it. Don't assume that someone who requests flexible working arrangements won't be a committed team member. If you get the right people, put in place the right structures and foster a supportive culture there can be huge benefits to your business.
Next week, we are looking at professional businesses such as dentists, doctors, accountants who are thinking outside the box to expand their practices. Tell us your stories.