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Sadie's flexible working story

In this Q&A, we talk with Sadie Elford, a business owner and Head of People, who shares how flexible working has helped her to balance her personal and professional life as a mother.

29th May 2024

Flexible working has transformed the way we live and work, giving us the freedom and balance we've all been craving. It lets people tailor their schedules to fit their unique lifestyles, working how and where they want. To find out more about the impact of remote and flexible work arrangements, we're sharing real success stories from those who have experienced the benefits firsthand.

Name: Sadie Elford

Job role: Head of People

What’s your flexible working set up? Hybrid

1. How has flexible working improved your productivity and job satisfaction?

Working in a HR/people role some parts of the job are just better done in person. Difficult conversations, picking up on when someone isn’t ok, and of course, the worst part of my job – having to let people go. The human parts of my role are just easier and feel more empathetic when I can sit in the same room as that person and read their body language and pick up on small nuances that are difficult via a video call.

However, there are also parts of my role that require shutting off and being able to concentrate without being interrupted. Being in a People role, I want employees to feel I am approachable and can come to me if they need to chat, but this can become difficult if I’m in the office every day and constantly being asked if I ‘have 5 minutes to chat’ (which inevitably turns into a 45-minute meeting!)

Being in a varied role means that hybrid flexible working is the best setup for me, I have that time in the office where I can speak to employees in person, but I also have days at home where I can concentrate on admin tasks that need my full attention without interruptions.

2. Can you share specific examples of how flexible working has made it easier to manage your personal and professional responsibilities?


I have a 5-year-old daughter and if I didn’t have a flexible job, I wouldn’t be able to spend quality time with her in the week. My commute is 2 hours into London and although that’s my choice, working for an employer that understands the importance of family and supports flexible working is a must-have for me. Being able to get back in time for stories at bedtime and do a few drop offs to school each week is so important. I don’t want to ever look back and regret not spending enough time with her. I saw a quote once on Linkedin that simply said ‘The only people that will remember you worked late in 20 years, will be your children’ That really resonated with me, and working flexibly means that I can still work on my career, but have quality time with my family too.


I work part-time at my company which means I have time to work on my own business too. It was always a dream to build my HR consultancy, so having the flexibility to work on my project is amazing. I also mentor for The Girls Network and work as a volunteer for The Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford. These things are something I feel very passionate about so being able to give something back is so important to me. I just wouldn’t be able to do these other projects if I didn’t have the option to work flexibly.

3. Have you experienced any challenges or obstacles related to flexible working, and if so, how have you overcome them?

Yes, it certainly took me a while to find the right kind of flexible work that suited me. For a few years, I worked completely remotely and thought that it would be the dream! (no commute, save money, be at home more, etc.) However, I found that, in reality, I became quite anxious and unhappy being on my own all day. I’m very much a ‘people person’ so being around other people for at least part of the week gave me more energy and made me happier. Plus, as I mentioned before there are just parts of my role that are better done in person!

4. How do you think flexible working has contributed to your career growth and development?

Flexible working has given me the chance to expand my skills in areas that I would never have had access to if I simply worked in an office full-time. In past roles, I held workshops and training on how to run teams and be a successful manager when you are remotely based, as well as considering elements of HR such as employee engagement and internal communications. Which certainly require more attention and effort when remotely based, but are 100% achievable.

If I had been stuck in an office all week, I certainly wouldn’t have been as productive or creative around my thinking as I have with the chance to be at home.

5. Is your company supportive of you working flexibly? Are there any policies they have in place that have helped you?

Yes! Otherway work in a hybrid way, but also really trust their employees. It was key for me when I was looking for a role that I found a company that understood the importance of trusting your employees to find the right way of working that suits them. At Otherway, we understand that it’s not the number of hours you sit at your desk, but the quality of the work you produce. Otherway are also very passionate about mental health and providing support in this area – they understand that commuting to an office everyday isn’t for everyone and can massively impact your mental well-being so offering flexibility is important in this area too.

Share your flexible working story with us! 

We want to hear how flexible working has transformed your life. Tell us about the challenges you've overcome, the benefits you've enjoyed, and the impact it has had on your daily routine. Your insights can inspire others on their journey towards a more flexible and fulfilling work life. If you're interested, you can answer our quick survey here, and we'll get back to you to learn more about your experience.