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Richard Godman talks about flexible working for a better life

6 December 2018

Tell us about your flexible work arrangement?

About 16 years ago my wife and I bought a lifestyle block in Kaiwaka (north of Auckland) with long term dreams of getting out of Auckland for a quieter paced life. 

But back then the term ‘flexible working arrangement’ was unheard of, and we weren’t up for a daily commute (probably during rush hour) of a few hours a day, so in some ways the property felt like more of a hindrance than a lifestyle change that favoured us. 

But Suncorp has been embracing flexible working patterns for a few years now, so when the opportunity came up to work from home I jumped at it.

We built a home on the land and moved in two years ago, and I now work three days from home. The leadership team here has been very receptive to allowing me to choose a work arrangement that suits, and I think it’s benefiting both Suncorp and myself.

Why does it suit you? Why did you want a flexible arrangement? 

For me, leaving at 5am for a 100km drive five days a week isn’t the lifestyle I want or, a good use of my time. Working from home means that I can still get out in the early evening to do odd jobs around the property instead of arriving home in the dark, and I’m around more often for our sheep and chickens and to get my dog to obedience classes on time. Most importantly, I manage to get a lot more done working from home, as I can concentrate more on the tasks at hand without the noise and bustle of the office environment.

I’ve gotten used to the commute for the two days a week, and it is great to have time to catch up with the team, attend the many stand-ups and meetings we have these days and talk to people in person. I must say I do appreciate and enjoy the flexibility that is on offer for me at Suncorp.

What are the challenges you face, and what are the benefits? 

Even in the last two years technology has improved, and online meetings are almost the same as being in the room with the other attendees. In fact these days so many people at Suncorp have flexible work arrangements that there’s often as many people attending meetings online as in person.

One thing that I had to improve (and hopefully have now mastered) is regularly getting out of my chair and walking around, just as you would in the office when going to the printer or your locker, or even making a coffee. 

When I first started working from home, I would realise I had been sitting in my chair almost the entire day without doing any meaningful exercise or stretching. These days though, I now get out of my chair at least once an hour and walk to the front gate with the dog, throw him a ball a few times, then head back to my computer for another hour. It’s great how a bit of fresh air and exercise kickstarts the body again.  

Is it hard to work remotely from your team, and what strategies do you have to make it work for you? 

At first, I thought it might be hard, and you think you’re not seeing your teammates as much as you might feel you need to.

But most days they are involved in at least one of the meetings that I call into anyway, so we get to catch up quickly and you don’t feel isolated from those you work with. Online messaging also helps me to stay in contact - any questions that I might have walked over to a teammate’s desk to ask I can deal with just as easily on a Skype conversation. 

Anything else you want to say about working flexibly with Suncorp? 

Working from home is not for everyone, and I have teammates that prefer to work from the office and feel that they are more effective being there rather than at home. 

But for those who feel up to getting the work done without the hassles of commuting, working from home is a great opportunity to get closer to the work/life balance everyone is eager for these days. 

One thing I have noticed that as more people at Suncorp take up flexible working arrangements or start working from home, the easier it gets for everyone to adjust to new working arrangements. 

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