career development

How to use flexible working as a competitive advantage


Christina SmerdonAug 1, 2018

Building a business from the ground up gives the founders of a company the perfect opportunity to create a business where their own beliefs are front and centre.

“You don’t change the status quo by tinkering at the edges. You take the model and turn it on its head” says Simon Tyrell, Chief Product Officer at LiveTiles.

For LiveTiles, flexible working was the only way they were ever going to set up and run their business.

The founders recognised early on that to make great products, they would need a great team. And the people who make up their great team were going to be found in random places all over the world. These great people were unlikely to be living within the commute of one or two locations around the world.

Whilst LiveTiles have office hubs in Hobart, New York and Ireland, they also have a globally dispersed team. Some of these people always worked 100% remotely. Others started in an office, and later moved to live elsewhere and work remotely.

Ivy (Innovation & Experience Analyst) for example, started out working in the New York office, then wanted to try living in Paris for a year. Of course the answer was YES, because it aligns with the LiveTiles values! Now, Evie works from her apartment in Paris in her own time zone.

Unlike a traditional set of values, LiveTiles employees live by three simple values that guide every decision they make and it codifies their unique culture;

  • First, we are decent human beings. We care about people and our world, and treat our colleagues, customers, and partners accordingly.
  • Second, we get sh!t done. Getting work out the door is more important than endless process discussions.
  • Finally, we create unforgettable experiences–keeping our global family inspired and motivated, and on the platform we’ve created.
  • For people deeply indoctrinated in the Monday to Friday 9-5 paradigm, the idea that you are invited to do your work anywhere, anytime, anyhow could be confronting, and many may think that it would open the door to people problems. You have no doubt heard all the excuse before: how will I know what they are working on; how will I monitor my team; how will people feel included?

LiveTiles believes that poor performance is a people and expectations management issue, not a flexible working issue. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Creating simple solutions is part of the LiveTiles DNA. These are a few things that have been done to future-proof this way of working:

  • Long recruitment cycles to ensure that new recruits will contribute positively to the culture, and also come with high quality skills;
  • Regular, virtual team meetings and contact with team members irrespective of your physical location;
  • Travel anywhere in the world to connect with your colleagues. To support this, LiveTiles has a dedicated apartment in New York available to team members to come and visit head office for a week at a time. It is all paid for by the company knowing that the cost of providing this perk is far less than the cost of recruiting over and again if a team member becomes disgruntled;
  • An annual, whole of company gathering - this year it was in Hawaii. The difference between meeting someone face to face and getting to know a person in real life is very different to meeting on the other end of a keyboard!

“You will never leave a company if you know everyone and know their families. People are a worthwhile investment,” Vanessa Ferguson, People and Culture global leader.

Vanessa was employee #1. Once they reached employee #100 Vanessa put her hand up to start creating structures and policies to ensure that the values and culture that was created by the first 100 employees continues for the next 1,000 and beyond.


About the author

Christina Smerdon

Chief Flex Enabler at WORK180


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