I’m still getting the hang of Australia. I moved here from the UK around the middle of 2018, after spending four months planning (and to be honest, wishing I was making the move sooner).
Choosing to pull up roots and move away from friends and family is never easy, however millions around the globe do it each year. After arriving on Australian soil and adjusting to the rich, yellow light, the slang and the locals’ propensity to wear singlets far more than they should (and shoes far less than they should!), I tasked myself with finding a ‘job’ – ideally one that allows me to pursue my ‘side-hustle’ of being a triathlete.
I’ve always had a pretty strong work ethic, and have felt the pressure of it since graduating from university in 2015, but it was the unfamiliar concept of establishing a “work-life balance” that was forever escaping me.
What is work-life balance?
In August this year, I was appointed to the position of People and Operations Manager at BlueChilli, a role that would finally open my eyes to what work-life balance really meant.
During my interview process, Head of People and my now mentor, Claudia Barriga-Larriviere asked me:
“How do you do your best work?”
I was baffled. Though I’ve been working a few years, no-one had ever asked me this in an interview. She prompted me with an example, “I’m not a morning person so you will rarely see me in the office before 11am”. Could this be work-life balance? I shared one of my thoughts via email following the interview:
Autonomy – I love flexibility in the working environment. If that’s working from home to allow focus on a deadline or working early doors to allow for an earlier finish so I can make training. This gives me the ability to stay level headed and focus on things that matter in the moment rather than being distracted with the prospect of rushing.
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Throw back to this time last year – Receiving this in the post made weeks of training, early mornings and all the nerves totally worth it. Just a year on and I’m back on the team heading off to the Gold Coast to compete in the ITU world Finals later this year. Over the next 4 months I will be documenting every step I take in my quest to make the podium. Here goes! . . . . . #swimbikerun #triathlon #triathlete #swim #bike #fitness #throwbackthursday #triathlontraining #itutriathlon #britishtriathlon #trilife #tritraining #gym
Just six hours later and after a 45-minute walking interview around Sydney with our CEO, I was offered the job. Was this all too good to be true? (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t).
I have now been at BlueChilli for four months and I’m constantly blown away by what an incredible place to work these flexible policies create.
So you may be wondering, how we’ve designed work to fit into your life?
Surprisingly, it’s easier than you think.
Our Head of People, Claudia likes to say: “If we pay people in real life adult dollars we expect them to make real life adult decisions”.
Trusting your employees empowers them and provides the freedom to go about their daily work in the best possible way. BlueChilli has built and iterated its policies over the past five years to provide the platform to exercise this freedom.
Trusting your employees, and understanding that people work in different ways to deliver their best, is crucial to success.
Some people work best at 5am. Some at 11.30pm. Treat people as adults to empower them to succeed.
Working away from your home city
In 2018, half of BlueChillians took advantage of our flexible work policy, to work remotely with other teams, meet and work with our partners or in many cases to work from their home city.
This inherent freedom gives them the ability to integrate work with family time. Both are important.
I’ve witnessed first hand how this policy paves a way for inclusion.
As a relatively modest business, it’s astonishing we’ve been able to welcome employees from 15 countries.
Working from home
Sniggering and raising eyebrows are common responses to the phrase ‘working from home’, the modern day interpretation of skiving a day off work, having a lie in or nursing the most hideous hangover. These assumptions are fundamentally unwelcome here at BlueChilli.
Instead, working from home is a policy that we champion.
In fact, half of BlueChillians tell us this is where they do their best work.
Having children shouldn’t be a barrier to people wanting to do their best work. A recent study acknowledges that 36 percent of parents are not able to work due to being parents. Not only is this a huge loss of capital for the economy in Australia but it’s a statistic that is hard to believe in a world where equality is fought daily. We’re proud and honoured to provide flexibility to the third of our workforce who are working parents, including two executives who are currently on maternity leave.
In allowing working parents to get their work done but not miss out on important family moments, we are able to create an inclusive working environment; one that removes barriers and allows for employees to do their best work when and wherever may suit them.
Keeping the team connected
The flexibility to work remotely offers myriad benefits. The freedom to focus. The freedom to spend time with family. The freedom to manage school drop-offs or pick-ups.
BlueChilli has worked to embrace policies to create the freedom that everyone should be entitled to.
The oil that lubricates any modern business is connectivity. The proliferation of cloud-based tools has changed the way people work irrevocably; ensuring team members can stay on top of tasks and remain connected to peers regardless of their location or time zone. Online tools like Slack, Zoom, Monday and AirTable are critical to enabling BlueChilli staff to remain productive and cohesive regardless of where they are, what timezone they are in or how many children they have.
I took a big step in 2018, moving halfway around the world to find a balance; a balance that would allow me to pursue my personal aspirations while enjoying every day at work.
What I found was not work-life balance. In fact, I realised that what I had been looking for all along didn’t exist; there was no balance.
Instead, work and life simply coexist.
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I moved to Australia two months before the ITU world triathlon finals in the Gold Coast with nothing but a suitcase and a goal to pre qualify for the 2019 world finals in Switzerland. . Joining @sydney_triathlon_group and being coached by @samdougotriathlon during the lead up to the worlds was the difference between qualifying and not. . Before hand, I had no idea what I was doing, how to train but more importantly how to race. I finished 53rd overall in Rotterdam the year before, 16th in the GB team. This year I finished 9th overall, 1st in the GB team. . Next stop, a podium in Lausanne next year? . . . #Triathlete #Triathlon #SwimBikeRun #Tri365 #TriLife #Training #TriathlonCoach #TriathlonTraining #Motivation #Running #Gym #Fitness #Workout #Health #Mizuno #Adidas #RunningShoes #RunningTraining #Garmin #Sport #Trainers#Cardio #Swimming #Speedo #SwimmingStrength #Garmin #Swimmer #Swimwear #Wetsuit #BlueSeventy #GreatBritian
George Miller is an award-winning triathlete and displaced Englishman who’s found a home as People and Operations Manager at BlueChilli. George is responsible for making sure that all of BlueChilli’s operations run smoothly as well as ensuring we have the right team and the environment for them to do their best work.