Flexible Working at Toyota GB, featuring Alan Jennings, Senior Manager, Corporate Planning & Corporate Social Responsibility

Flexible working has many benefits including employee satisfaction, which is key to recruitment and retention.

Here, Alan Jennings, Senior Manager, Corporate Planning & Corporate Social Responsibility at Toyota (GB) Plc talks to us about how flexible working benefits him personally and his views on the importance of more companies following the footsteps of Toyota by offering flexible working to their employees.


How has flexible working benefited you personally?

Whilst living just over 40 miles from our Head Office, which is not a huge distance, with the dreaded M25 this sometimes can take over 2 hours travelling time. Varying my start and finishing time has enabled me to shorten this dead time and balance the business and personal needs.  I am a morning person and choose to arrive early, I love the time when I’m first at my desk to plan, catch up on the to do list and focus on progressing key projects and tasks,  It also means I feel more ready to support the team when they arrive. This approach may not be for everyone, but It works for me.

How does a typical working day look for you when taking advantage of flexible working hours?

It may be a cliché, but there is no such thing as a typical day.  If I am in the office, not working from home which I try to do when I can, on average once a week, I arrive early. The team, who also work flexibly, arrive from between 07:30 and 09:00 ( their choice in how they wish to flex their day) allowing catch up time on anything urgent before the day gets in to full swing.   Then depending on the key priorities and meetings I will try and leave or go to the gym before 17:00, doesn’t always happen, but in the main I will flex leave between 16:00 and 17:00.  One exception is Friday, no-one should be on the M25 between 16:00-19:00 on a Friday, so I will start the commute midafternoon if I need to be in the office, if not I will work from home.

If flexible working had not be an option for you, what impact would this have on you and those around you?

Allowing people to create the right work / life balance and trusting them to get the job done,  from anywhere and at any time, creates the environment to allow more flexible working.  Without encouraging a more flexible approach to work you can create conflict between business and personal needs, which leads to less engaged and more stressed teams.  Modern ways of working, whether that be systems and collaboration tools really helps both the individual, the team and the company support working differently.

Why do you think it’s so important that more companies follow the footsteps of Toyota and offer flexible working to their employees?

I think flexible working is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have for recruiting and retaining the best people. Keeping teams engaged and passionate about their work partially comes from ensuring they manage their work and personal lives in harmony.  When people are supported to get a good balance, they deliver great results and are agile and flexible when the chips are down and something just needs to get done.

Please share your thoughts on whether more men should take up flexible working.

Whilst I think everyone should take up the opportunity to work flexibly, men are probably less likely to do it, whether that is because of their traditional values or how they believe working flexibly is perceived in their organisations.  If your company allows it, give yourself permission to try,  if you are a people manager and you don’t lead by example on flexible working, your teams won’t take advantage of this and this may lead to potentially less engaged individuals.

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