Emma Sexton's drive to rebel against office protocols led to a new kind of working, based on results not timetables.
I have wanted to have my own business for as long as I could remember. Someone recently asked me why this was, and it was the first time I had really considered an answer to that question. I always thought I had wanted to have my own business for the challenge and the freedom. I think I actually wanted to be my own boss because I have a blatant disregard for all of the work rules and protocols. Not the important ones ("don't steal stationery"; "make your colleagues tea"; or "don't call in sick and then tell everyone about your hangover on Facebook") but the ones that seem to make total sense to some people but are nonsense to me, such as "not being the first to leave work at 6pm in case I look like I am not doing my job properly". Ridiculous. I always told my team that if they had to work late then they clearly need some help and gathered everyone together to ensure all of us got out on time.
Work is essentially "school for grown-ups." It involves a number of other unnecessary rules, such as getting exactly 23.5 days holiday per year. What? How dare you tell me how much time off from work I can have. Do you own me? Anyone who has employed me knows full well that I made them far more money than they were paying me. I also know that I put in more hours than my contract ever told me to, yet my repayment for hard work and loyalty is that?
The other prerequisite when you're part of "school for grown ups" is the "be at your desk from Monday to Friday, 9am until 6pm" rule. Every day it's the same commute. The same environment. The same lunch options. This monotony almost drove me crazy.
I am now in the second year of having my own business and working harder than ever. Yet the freedom to make up my own rules is incredible. With a sister, niece and nephew in Australia, being able to run my business from anywhere in the world means I can spend precious time with them whenever I choose. My work hours are based on what is required to get the job done, so some days that's 18 hours, others it's none. I am ignoring the pressures of traditional business owners telling me to get an office. This keeps my business lean, meaning that my profit margins are healthy and I can work from anywhere I choose. My work colleagues are now fellow entrepreneurs and freelancers who join me to hotdesk and hang out. I can get the rest I need, whilst always making time for exercise, and now I know the times of the day that I am most productive.
My cooperative of freelancers is also able to work the same way. I pay them per project, not per hour, and they just have to meet the deadlines. This means they can work at anytime and in any location. If they get the job done quicker than I expected, then well done to them: they still keep the project fee. It is no surprise that many of my cooperative are stay-at-home mums who can't work a traditional nine to five, but can do evenings and weekends.
As my business grows I am determined to give my employees the freedom, trust and rewards that hardworking loyal human beings deserve. The first sign of any them following nonsense protocols and they will be given 23.5 days holiday as punishment … actually make that 22 and then they can "accrue" the extra 1.5 days.