Pioneer Profile: Meet Perry Timms

4th Oct 2023

It’s time that we recognise the people behind the evolving world of work. Our working lives have shifted to being more inclusive, more people-centric, more flexible, and just plain better for both employees and companies. 

These changes didn’t just happen: they were put into place and upheld by individuals and teams working to create a better working future for everyone. 

So we’re finally putting the spotlight on the people who make great companies great: the people-people.  

People-people are crucial to the success of every company. They find you the talent that drives you forwards, and they’ve taken on an increasingly strategic role in the past few years – often taking on responsibility for mental health, diversity and inclusion, culture, EVPs, Employer Branding and team happiness. 

Read more about the Pioneers List and go behind the scenes to understand how and why we’ve selected our Pioneers.

We were lucky enough to speak with Perry Timms, Founder and Chief Energy Officer at People & Transformational HR about his career, his experiences with flexible working and building great company cultures, and his hopes for the future of work.

Tell us a little bit about your career history, and how you got to where you are now. What were the key milestones? 

I had a public and charitable sector background for 26 years, working mainly on tech projects. I then ventured into independent consulting in 2012, and in 2019 and 2020 I was lucky enough to be joined by the amazing people that make up the team today. 

Key milestones for me on a personal level include starting remote working on tech projects back in 1998; being a key ambassador speaking at events from 2001 (including my 2 TEDx talks in 2014 and 2018); stepping into HR in 2003; and becoming Chartered CIPD in 2010. In 2017, I was also proud to make the HR Most Influential Thinkers list, eventually being ranked number 1 on this list in 2022. Additionally, I have 4 Guest Professorships at business schools around the UK.

As a business, we're really proud of being climate positive and active, as well as being a certified BCorp, an EMEA Top 50 Inspiring Workplace, a WorldBlu Listed Freedom-Centred Organisation, and a Gold Standard 4-day working week enterprise. Becoming Flexified is right up there too: we're so proud of our open, responsive and life-friendly ways being recognised by the Flexa accreditation.

When did you become interested in flexible working, EVPs and the future of work?

I was involved in the future of technology in the justice system in my Civil Service days, but I really switched on to the future of work around 2007 when I discovered self-managed organisations and systems. Since then, I've been agitating for a more participatory, humanised way of working that has more to do with democracy than it does hierarchy. I still believe that this is the EVP and future of work schema: self-managed and autonomous, inclusive and agile, choice-based, and work that is designed not just for efficiency but so that people flourish.

What's the most impactful change you’ve overseen?

I think our one rule – ‘We will be self-managed’ – holds a strong force for us to each then own elements of our enterprise. We've represented this as a series of Stacks, and we're pretty unique in the world of work for that open architecture and leading approaches to how we work and learn together.

What’s the biggest impact flexible working has had on your own life?

To me, it’s as natural as life itself. Work has created a cage, and flexible working means you can set your own edges, boundaries and parameters. Some might call it agency, we prefer to call it liberation. Flexible working is the most obvious and sustainable manifestation of that liberation.

What’s the biggest challenge of being in your role/industry right now?

Our industry (HR, Organisation Design and Change) is beset with one thing: too much to do. All roads lead to people, systems, energy, and value creation. What's clear to us is that the 20th-century construct of HR will not cope for much longer, which is why we're pushing for an upgraded operating system: HR 3.0, as we call it.

What do you think the next big trend is in working culture?

The big trend we see is the evolution of purposeful work and purpose-led businesses, and an obvious link to the work we need to do to tackle the climate crisis. It will be more than a trend but a movement, a renaissance of more balanced ways to live, work and be resourceful, and a shift to aggregated activism. 

Flexible work is part of the portfolio of solutions to this, aiding with less travel and negative impact on the environment, and more localised presence to work with the ecosystems we actually live in. Our detached state of consumption fuelled by our capitalist systems of growth and wealth can no longer see us sleepwalking through ecological impacts. Consciousness, activism and restorative justice in favour of planet Earth is the biggest working culture trend we can see.

Take a look at the other Pioneers who made the list, and subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on new Pioneers, guides to help you navigate your strategic role, and exclusive invites to webinars and events.