BlueChilli > Blog > Blog > Flexible work in a digital age

For around 18 months, Samara Pepperell has been BlueChilli’s social media guru – while juggling many commitments. In addition to finding the perfect pun or emoji, Samara runs a global company, competes internationally as an athlete, and keeps her 25k+ followers up to date. 

These many and varied activities mean Samara has to have a flexible work schedule. Read more to find out how Samara makes it work. 

There are a lot of trends in the workplace that imply an advantageous employer/employee arrangement.

You could offer drinks on tap, Friday night drinks, or KPI based rewards and employees of the month… but flexible work is one of those advantages I actually see in practice and have benefited from.

Depending on the industry and requirements of the role, there might just be some opportunities for flexibility within the hours, days or locations.

Flexibility works wonders to increase your desire and ability as an employee to perform, encouraging a good work/life balance.

Starting with BlueChilli

At the time the marketing role at BlueChilli came across my plate, I was finishing a European tour. I had just moved to Australia the previous year and I was looking for a part-time role, but my hopes were slim, based on my ability to commit to being in one place for longer than 6 weeks.

When I was contacted by the Head of Marketing, Chanie Hyde in regards to a position in the Melbourne based team, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to explore a role that would utilise my skills and experience in social media… but my biggest concern was my schedule.

My first interview took place at 6am in Berlin via a phone conference, and then a follow-up call happened a week later in Amsterdam. I explained to their team that this kind of travel would be a regular occurrence.

“I would love to opportunity to work with you if you can manage my gypsy travel lifestyle.”

A little about Lady Trample

To give a little insight, I am firstly a founder, running my own startup called Chicks in Bowls, which means I dedicate 3+ days a week to running my own company.

Secondly, I am an athlete (hence the weird name) and dedicate the remainder of my “spare” time to training and competing with the Victorian Roller Derby League (currently #1 team in the world).

Samara from BlueChilli skating and showing balance
It takes a bit of balance. Photo by: Anja Wettergren

I have worked in branding and marketing for the past 6 years and had been seeking an opportunity where I would utilize my experience in marketing and design. Being a founder, I was extra attracted to a role in the startup industry. I couldn’t help but stay nervous about their ability to adapt to my travel and training requirements.

Flexible’ is definitely a buzzword used by companies these days, but would they really be able to accommodate my unique situation and travel requirements?

I was shocked and excited when I received a final call while in Manchester, England, and offered a position within the marketing team.

I finished off my European tour and headed back to Melbourne where I was introduced and inducted into the small but mighty team. I was excited to start navigating my new life/work situation.

What a real flexible employee looks like

As a part-time employee, I’ve been able to exercise true flex many times over the last 18 months. I arrange my 2.5 days worth of work around whatever I’m else doing. I’m able to work on the rooftop of a Malaga Airbnb, or whilst road tripping around the States.

I’ve logged into our ‘Working from Home’ (WFH) channel from Spain, England, Italy, NZ, and the USA on more than one occasion.

My flexible work planning involves meeting with the team, focusing what needs doing and figuring out the hours I’ll be workingI work out my rough zones when I’ll have access to strong wifi connections. And then I plot out my calendar to ensure I don’t double up on fun activities when I have work requirements.

There are definitely times where it can get a little complicated.

Only in Australia 50% of the time…

I’ve sometimes locked in meetings at silly hours or worked with slow running internet in random parts of the world.

It’s all about finding balance and planning, the more work you do in advance, the easier you’ll find it.

You don’t want ‘Flexible Work’ to actively increase your stress levels.

There’s times I’ve returned to Melbourne feeling jet-lagged and in need of bed rest. All I need to do is login to Slack, let the team know I’m back, and I recalibrate my body to the right timezone from the comfort of home.

Not All Flexibility Is Created Equal

Not all roles are suitable to a flexible work environment. However, when possible, offering the ability to shuffle days and encourage a healthy balance of life/work can actually increase productivity.

Many Australian employers understand the benefits to offer flexible working arrangements, but BlueChilli takes the cake. The ability to work from different locations or home when you’re under-the-weather, not only reduces the chance of spreading the flu but also decreases the time taken off for lesser illnesses.

Since joining BlueChilli I’ve taken 3 sick days.

There are other wonderful perks including an enforced #AwesomeDay. Which can be used at random to take a paid day off work to do something awesome. The only parameters are that you don’t spring it on them during a peak event, or use it to stay home folding laundry!

Last year I took my Awesome Day in Malaga and spent the day exploring ruins with my friends. This year I’m taking the day off in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to go skating with my girlfriend. The ability to come back online on Monday and share these adventures with my co-workers adds to the excitement.

Working in a Digital World

There is something to be said about a communal working space.  I appreciate the value of being near and connected to my team, but I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have engaged with while working remotely over the past 18 months.

BlueChilli Marketing Team phoning it in

The digital age and advances in technology have enabled our team to connect and share through Slack, Google Docs, Monday, Email and even Text.

We can collaborate and communicate regardless of timezone.  

18 months, and more than 10 international trips later, I’m convinced that flexible works.

Flexible work schedules can be used in so many ways, whether it’s negotiating a compressed work week, doing split shifts around childcare or adjusting hours for other commitments. It could be shifting to working from home on a semi-regular basis or encouraging mental health days.

The advantages for employers and employees are measurable. When you meet your employees halfway, they’re more likely to go the extra mile for you.