Jeff Mann, outgoing CEO of Jericho, a digital marketing business, which he co-founded in 2000, became 100 per cent owned by Asia Pacific Digital, one of the region's largest digital services companies in March this year

Do you and your staff work flexibly? How do you organise this?

We regard working flexibly as enabling your life and work to be in balance and having the opportunity to be in control of your day and this is something we have always encouraged at Jericho. If things change - in either demands in your life or work, you can adapt your day to suit you and the business you work for, therefore concentrate on delivering tasks that satisfy three core stake holders - staff, clients and shareholders. We organise this by respecting people to do the right thing in terms of their individual commitment and we assess this by the satisfaction of each of the core stakeholders - clients, staff, and shareholders.

Do senior people have more flexibility than the newer recruits?

As a rule, no. But having said that, it is normal for newer recruits to put in time and energy in the office to get up to speed.


What is your personal and business philosophy on flexible working?

I believe that people in companies that jokingly comment on staff arriving late or leaving early are very limited in their vision. In fact, attitudes like this often spread throughout an organisation and people can begin to feel uncomfortable to shorten their day when work demands allow them to. I believe this has a significantly negative effect on staff satisfaction levels which then effects business productivity, client satisfaction and ultimately ROI as people shift their focus from quality output to time watching. Staff should respect each other and be concerned with delivering quality results that satisfy their peers and their clients, rather than the number of hours they sit at their desk.

Is flexible working common your industry?

I think companies are increasingly offering a more flexible hours philosophy to their staff workflow which is great. However, I would like to see more businesses actively discouraging non flexi discrimination by peers, for example: "Half day is it?" when someone leaves at 4.30pm. And I think there are great opportunities for business to encourage greater evolution of part time roles within a business. Culture is everything in the company. If you can't trust and respect your employees to do what's right for the business, then you should review your recruitment processes and staff review findings to better identify the changes you need to make.

Do you think giving your staff flexible working options help with retention and productivity?

Yes, enabling your staff to be responsible for their own life and work balance shows trust and respect and I believe leads to greater employee satisfaction which improves outcomes for both internal and external clients.

Top tip

Get together a group of people from across your organisation including junior and senior employees. List the pain points in the business, what causes employee stress. It may be a non-delivery to clients; it may be an 8am scheduled work meeting on a Monday morning. Then consider what work flow changes could reduce this stress, without impacting client or stakeholder satisfaction and in fact improve it. Concentrate your changes around improving efficiency in workflow processes and communication that leads to results in improving satisfaction. On top of that, ensure your senior team are focused on delivering results rather than rostered hours, and this culture is understood throughout the business. It's not rocket science, but it's certainly exciting and rewarding for people who get behind this approach.

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.