At the turn of the millennium, the idea of working from home was a relative rarity. But with a young baby in her arms it simply made sense for Maya Middlemiss, founder of Saros Research Ltd, to start working from the kitchen table.
Although still a ‘small’ business today, Saros was recognised by the government’s Exemplar Employer scheme in 2007 for providing opportunities for flexible working, and now employs project managers and interviewers in three countries – all based in their own homes, making their own choices about work life balance, and recruiting hundreds of participants every month for paid research projects such as focus groups and user testing.
Like their managing director most are parents, and working from home offers flexibility and choice, about everything from where to live to childcare options, as well as coping with emergencies such as snow days. Said Maya Middlemiss: “Our team members are the best, and working in this way lets us select from a global workforce, including many who would simply be excluded from a typical management role requiring commuting and a fixed location. We have always believed that work is what you do, not where you do it, and the technology available today makes most roles accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Similarly the research participants we recruit come from all over the UK to events in all areas – all the screening and logistics are organised remotely. The business case for results-oriented, flexible working has never been stronger”
Which is why she is travelling to London to speak at the Work and Family Show next week, to help inspire more people to explore the flexibility of working from home, and discuss the realities of working from home with a growing family, and challenges ranging from technology not working to noisy neighbours: “When you are working with some of the worlds top brands as clients, you need to project professionalism at all times. A luxurious office is one way to imply this, but ultimately we stand or fall by the service we deliver – and that is through the human touch, of dedicated account managers. They give a hundred percent to their clients’ needs, safe in the knowledge they are not wasting precious family time commuting or looking busy for anyone else’s benefit”.
The Work and Family Show is at the ExCel centre in London, on the 21st and 22nd February 2014. Maya Middlemiss’ panel discussion on ‘Managing Your Work and Family Team’ is at 11:35 on Saturday 22nd http://www.theworkandfamilyshow.co.uk/the-personal-theatre/timetable
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