Why this Award Winning Founder put Flexible Working at the Core of His Company's Culture

An interview with Nicholas Andreou, Co-founder of 2021's Most Flexible Company, Locum's Nest.

30th Sep 2021

This week, Flexa announced the Top 50 Most Flexible Companies of 2021. 🎉

The announcement was a great success and with our Flexified Partners coming together to celebrate one another's achievement, it created a wonderful sense of camaraderie and belonging. The event highlighted the important fact that the majority of us want the same thing - the freedom to live our lives in the way that we choose. To be happy.

To become a Flexified Employer on our platform, companies are required to go through our two-stage, patented Flexification™ process that assesses different aspects of flexibility across the business. A successful Flexification™ depends on factors such as the types of flexibility on offer, benefits packages, and both Employer and Employee FlexScores™ - which includes anonymous employee feedback. It's all of these elements that our dedicated team had to analyse in order to accurately develop our Top 50 Most Flexible Companies list, and it's how we decided 2021's Most Flexible Company.

With an Employer FlexScore™ of 96% and an incredible Employee FlexScore™ of 100%, Locum's Nest were crowned this year's Most Flexible Company!

Flexa's Co-founder, Molly Johnson-Jones caught up with Locum's Nest's Co-founder, Nicholas Andreou to discuss their latest achievement and to find out what it is about their approach to flexible working that makes them such a desirable employer.

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Nick, congratulations to you and the Locum’s Nest team on being named the Most Flexible Company! A pretty amazing achievement. How do you feel about Locum’s Nest being named number one?

Thank you! Yes, we were fairly surprised with the news! I definitely did a little dance when our Communications Manager called me to say we’d been named the most flexible company.

We always knew we were a flexible employer but we never really stopped to think about how we compare to other companies. So this was really great to see and it’s a call to action for us to keep innovating in our industry.
I think people will be really interested to know what you offer and what your working environment is like. Why are you so flexible?

It’s a multi-faceted thing, actually. When a lot of people think about flexible working, they think about working outside of the office, which is a major part of it, but it goes beyond that.

It’s a part of everything somebody does in a company. It’s working hours; working part time or full time opportunities without any prejudice or strings attached. It’s their place of work; the ability to say “I’m going to work from home today”, working from home or the office. These are key but it’s also about providing flexibility to people to carve their own role, to change and adapt it as they grow within the company.

We’re a small, young company and things change, so things shouldn’t stay static for our employees. I think that’s key also.

That really showed on your score. You scored 100% on your employee survey, which means they literally couldn’t find you any more flexible than you already are.

We ask employees about work-life balance, about whether they feel supported, whether senior management work flexibly as well (because role modelling that is key), whether everything they need is on offer, if they’ve ever had any difficult experiences, etc.. With Locum’s Nest, employees gave nothing but positive feedback, everything was really amazing and that was so lovely to see, and very, very unusual - even for a company to score 100% with just one employee, let alone with numerous team members completing the survey.

As CEO of the company, why did you decide to put flexibility at the forefront of your culture and strategy?

That’s a good question. It goes back to a couple of things: what we do as a company, which is providing flexible opportunities at hospitals in the NHS who want to offer that to their staff. We’d be hypocrites to develop software that enables flexibility and then not apply the same principles to our own culture.

Yes, I have the role of employer, but the rules that apply to me should also apply to everyone else as well, so what do I want for me and what do others that want to join Locum’s Nest want and aspire to? If you apply that thinking then it translates to a kind working environment. 

Absolutely, I think kindness is at the heart of it all. Thinking about how you’d want to work if you were starting your career again or coming into a new company.

What would your advice be to a company that’s maybe a bit less flexible or thinking about starting to embrace flexibility - what has been pivotal to your success as a flexible company?

It’s about taking a step back and not focusing too hard on the little details or ‘does this tick the box as something flexible?’. It’s thinking ‘how much do I want to trust the people I work with?’ The answer is always ‘‘a lot’ - the maximum! If you can take that step back and ask yourself these types of questions, then you will allow people the space to come to you with suggestions, and they know you’ll adopt or at least consider their ideas. It is possible to build a bespoke plan for everybody.

If people know that you’ll do your best to accommodate them, then that trust, that bond, is strong. When things are possible (role changes, flexibility) everybody is happy. Then, even when something is not possible, for whatever reason, people still feel like they were a part of the process. Communication is key.
Two way trust is so important. Not fearing that if you ask for flexibility, it’ll negatively affect the company’s perception of you and as a company, not fearing that if you offer flexibility, someone will exploit it. The latter has been in the headlines a lot recently; claims that those who work from home don’t do anything and are just exploiting their employer. Obviously, as we’ve all seen, that’s not very often the case.
It’s very shortsighted as a point of view and I think we both agree on that. To be honest, looking at it from an employer’s perspective, flexibility does boost productivity and leads to the results you need. We don’t really count the number of hours or minutes that we work, we focus on the output and that’s what matters.
Definitely. Have there been any other benefits you’ve seen from being super flexible?
Yes. People forming lasting relationships with their colleagues, more than I witnessed elsewhere because again, it’s that personal touch in people's roles. As a new, young company, you can’t think of everything. So you need people to innovate in every aspect of their role and if you don’t provide freedom, including flexibility at work, then it’s a bit sterile and inflexible. We’ve seen people making small and big changes left, right and centre, and it’s great because it keeps the company expanding and achieving its aims.
It encourages more of a work life blend. If everyone is working flexibly then you see their dogs, you see their children, they talk about their hobbies, their sports, what they’re doing at lunchtime. These are all often kept quite separate from work, and as much as we do need boundaries to prevent our mental health, sleep and stress levels from suffering, it’s also very nice to know people on a more personal level, which you wouldn’t get by just being in an office nine to five, everyday.
Yes, and boundaries are important but they don’t mean formality in that sense. A great initiative that a colleague of mine set up was coffee breaks for the whole company. Everyone gets together and we’re all banned from talking about work, instead we focus on getting to know each other a little better. Working from home means a screen in front of us and not interacting with our colleagues for long periods of time, face to face, so little touches like these make all the difference. 
Definitely. To summarise, I’m sure there will now be a lot of people wishing they could work for the most flexible company, for anyone interested in joining Locum’s Nest, what are your hiring plans and how should candidates engage with you?
We’re always looking for talent and people who share the same values as Locum’s Nest, all of which can be found on our Flexa Company Page. We will start expanding all aspects of the company in the coming weeks and months, so feel free to get in touch with us! 
Cool, that sounds great. Congratulations once again, it was lovely to chat to you about why you’re the most flexible company. It’s a highly accredited award and your benchmarking scores and attitude towards flexible working show that it’s clearly well deserved by Locum’s Nest!

You can watch the full video interview here:

Keen to learn more about 2021's Most Flexible Company? Check out the Locum's Nest Company Page to read more about their approach to flexible working and browse their latest vacancies!

Reckon you've got what it takes to be one of 2022's Most Flexible Companies?

Take our quick flexibility quiz to see how you stack up against the market!
Take the quiz