How I’m making Avanade’s culture of flexibility work for me

  • Posted on November 5, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Even before our current reality of social distancing and remote work, Avanade had the technology and culture of flexibility to enable many employees to work from home. Working from home means less time commuting and the freedom to spend time on personal passions, whether that’s writing a book or coaching a soccer team. Today, we’re featuring stories from Guy Mather and Brandon Nolan to hear how they make Avanade’s culture of flexibility work for them.

Investing in his health

At the start of this year, I decided to do something about my weight. The pandemic stopped my travel, so I could control nutrition and exercise far better. After losing 31 kg. (70 lb.) I feel better than I have in years. The pandemic has had plenty of downsides – but it is up to all of us to make the best of the things we cannot change.

One tip I would give anybody is to leave yourself time to think and relax. You have to plan time for yourself, otherwise work can be all consuming. I have a global job, and it would very easy to start every day with early calls to India, Japan, Singapore and Australia and for late calls to fill the evenings with Seattle. My schedule is marked up with "no go" areas to deter people from booking meetings at times I need for myself.

To start the day, I schedule a walk. London is one of the greenest major cities in the world in terms of parks, and it’s 30-minute walk for me to get to the River Thames. Early morning walks help me wake up and give me time to think. I’ve read that walking familiar routes is a bit like meditation and good for stress reduction, and I’ve found that to be true for me.

I also sometimes block off time around lunch for some time on the Peloton bike, or downtime before dinner to invest in different hobbies. Having a plan for each week is key, although I will add that I try to be flexible. Other people around the world also need to look after themselves, and we all need to be thoughtful of each other. —Guy Mather, Global Delivery Executive

Seeing the value in self-care

Before coming to Avanade, my work/life balance wasn't a balance at all. Work totally overwhelmed life, and this was because of choices I made. I needed to say no more, manage my time better, and solution the problem differently. When I came to Avanade, I had a chance to re-evaluate my boundaries to maintain work/life balance. Work inevitably will ask you to do more, as there is always something else that needs to be done. We have to be able to know when to push back and suggest a solution to get the task completed without cutting into our personal time. 

I once expressed guilt to Avanade’s former CEO Adam Warby about not working when there was a lull in my day. He replied, "Are you getting your tasks done? Are you meeting the expectations placed on you by your leads? If yes, then take the time you need to take care of yourself, because there will be times we ask more of you. Avanade needs you to take care of yourself." This changed the way I thought about work.

I have managed different teams over the years, and there are three tools I use to cultivate courage and confidence in establishing good, healthy boundaries:

  • Use a to-do list: A to-do list helps keep your brain sharp to focus on the task at hand. You don't need to think about all the information in your notes because you know that it is safely written down for you to access anytime you need. This is very helpful in "turning off" at the end of the day because I know tomorrow when it is time to work, I just read my notes to know where I left off the day before.
  • Create strong communication: Establish a common language with your team with focus on soft skills so they have "words" to express what their intent is and convey what the true meaning is behind that email they sent.
  • Build vulnerability and trust: I have chosen two very specific words here. To earn the right for folks to share and be vulnerable with you, you need to establish trust. This takes time and it cannot be faked. You have to care and be empathetic. You have to show up. The lesson here is SLOW down, focus only on the person you are talking to and engage meaningfully.

After embracing Avanade’s culture and letting go of my guilt, I feel empowered to work hard when I can and turn off when I need to. If I need to book a personal appointment in the middle of the day, I schedule around it and take care of myself. It is imperative that we take time out for self-care whether we find that through meditation, taking a walk or playing an instrument. —Brandon Nolan, Security Consulting Director

Pam Greenstein

Wonderful stories.  Really appreciate how each of you were so honest, and what you did to get on a better path.  I'm inspired!

November 26, 2020

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