It’s 31st December 2018, and as I’m sure many of us are, I am feeling reflective.
This year we closed the 9-2-3 office for a week over Christmas – giving our team the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family (without using any of their annual leave), ready to come back to the office feeling refreshed and raring to go.
Writing about “our team” and “the 9-2-3 office” seems completely normal, yet this time last year the 9-2-3 team consisted of just me, and my first hire Lucy (who’s now our Head of Operations and Senior Recruiter). And our office was my kitchen table…
I did chuckle at our Christmas party – and it wasn’t just the cocktails – it was the comparison to our works do last year, when Lucy had been at 9-2-3 for just a few weeks, and we went for a meal, just the two of us. This year 8 of us had a cocktail masterclass and 3-course dinner in Oxford – complete with Secret Santa, and some very special gifts inspired by some office jokes. Office jokes!! We have an office, and enough people working in it to have office jokes!!
When I set up 9-2-3, I obviously hoped it would succeed, but you can’t truly imagine what it would be like if your idea actually does work! I liken running a growing business to being at the wheel of a juggernaut, rolling down a steep hill, with slightly dodgy brakes. If you can keep control of the vehicle and continue to your destination then the rewards are great, but if you hit a rock on the way or take a wrong turn, then it could all end up as quite a mess! So I spend some of my time feeling mild panic in my chest, and some of my time feeling huge excitement at the path ahead! I have to remind myself to enjoy the journey!
Plus as the business grows, so do your goals. In the beginning, I remember thinking that helping one business find their dream candidate once a month would be amazing. I still enjoy helping businesses and candidates, but I would feel disappointed if we were helping just one a month!
We now have 9 members of staff on the 9-2-3 payroll (all working flexibly) and plan to hire 4 more by Easter. We’ve always had a pretty clear company ethos - we’re focused on finding flexible roles for experienced professionals, enhancing workforces by sourcing hard-to-reach candidates (our database has grown organically and we welcome those who have had career breaks and aren’t yet on LinkedIn) and we never “spray and pray” CVs. In the last year, I have had to learn to accept that we also need certain systems and processes in place in order to grow in a sustainable way, which our team understands and works within (and so our way of doing things isn’t just in my head any more!). It all feels very exciting! I remember speaking to a mentor back in September 2017, who said that (with respect) 9-2-3 at that time was nothing but a very good idea making a bit of money – and that if I was hit by a bus, there would be nothing left! The next month I offered Lucy a job with me, and we’ve grown the business ever since. I’m not planning on being hit by a bus, but if I was, I know that 9-2-3 would continue.
There has been lots of change for 9-2-3 in the last year, and I know we have more changes ahead; but one thing that hasn’t changed is my passion for promoting flexible working for all. I believe that flexible working is the future. I believe that flexible working arrangements lead to a happier and more motivated workforce, which in turn leads to increased productivity and profit. I believe that for flexible working to work at its best, there has to be trust – and I also know that I wouldn’t want to hire anyone I didn’t trust. I will keep asking businesses to give flexible working a go and I hope that in 2019 we continue to see more senior roles open to flexible working (not necessarily part-time – simply flexible).
The flexible working revolution is now well underway, and gathering momentum. So I start 2019 feeling hugely excited and optimistic at the year ahead; with a New Year’s Resolution to generate even more flexible roles for experienced professionals!