Balancing Benefits: Policies That Help Optimise Life As a Consultant

In my last post I talked about how my company, Adaptiv, strives to optimise the lives of the consultants (there are four of us). But talk is indeed cheap. How do we accomplish that in practice? Of course this differs from company to company, but I’d like to present some of our ideas. We’ve come up with a number of benefits, which we feel move us in the right direction.

A signpost directing Work Life Balance

Where to next?

We have many of the more typical benefits at Adaptiv, e.g. health insurance and a money pool for physical training expenses. It would be boring to list all of those. Instead I would like to talk about four more unusual benefits that contribute to my quality of life.

Flexible Work Day

Everybody needs flexibility in their lives. Sometimes, children have to go to the doctor and sometimes you’re waiting for a furniture delivery. Life without flexibility means everyday hell. At Adaptiv, we simply assume that the consultants work for the customer as much as their lives can tolerate and handle the synchronisation themselves. There is no one to ask at Adaptiv if you need a half day off. We do report time, but mostly for invoicing purposes. There is no control. Now and then we have a look at the time reports together, mostly to get a feeling for if somebody is working too much. That’s pretty much the main risk with engaged consultants – not the opposite.

One Day Off a Month for Personal Tasks

Many people feel stress because of the job, but adding insult to injury are all personal chores they need to do besides work, for example getting a present for your loved one, checkup at the dentist’s or having an appointment with your hairdresser. Before, on these occasions, I would normally eat a hamburger walking to the metro and then run back to work. This is unhealthy. To counter this, Adaptiv has created “Ä-dagen, short for “Ärendedagen” (literally “Errand Day” in English). It’s simple: Each consultant can have one day off each month, without using vacation days, to perform personal tasks. By collecting tasks into one day, we can relax and focus on work during the rest of the month.

Long, Flexible Vacation

Everybody needs their rest. I have personally seen the effects of burnout and work-related depression. Too many good people lose their fire. Adaptiv is fortunate to reside in a country with quite a civilised view on vacation. Swedish law mandates a payed vacation of five weeks per year. As a consultancy, Summers are pretty slow so we’ve gone one better. We have seven weeks nominal holiday. I write “nominal” because its at your individual discretion, as always. After a full year, vacation days are summed up and compared. Any major differences above the nominal are settled by pay deduction.

Act as Sales and Business Contacts to Each Other

All these perks are designed to leave the consultants with enough free time to spend quality time with their families, meet friends and to pursue hobbies and interests. Of course, it would mean little if we didn’t also have meaningful, challenging assignments. That’s where we find our core purpose, making a difference for customers. So we help and encourage each other to find good assignments and we act as business contacts for each other. The reason is simple: Very few are good at selling their own greatness. This way, the consultant can remain the nice, collaborative guy and the business contact can handle the, sometimes unpleasant, business negotiations.

That’s it! We are still tweaking this and finding new ideas, but I feel this is a pretty good start. I see few reasons why anybody would want anything less.

5 thoughts on “Balancing Benefits: Policies That Help Optimise Life As a Consultant

  1. Thanks, as usual, for sharing, but I have to say you want more.

    At Crisp we have a team contract that stipulate that we should not wok more that 80% on customer assignments. In real life it is totally up to you. If you want to work 100 % you can do that, but don’t expect any sympathies when complaining about not having time to tender our commons: Crisp.

    If you want to work 60 % or 40 %, have one day of a month, or a week, take 2 month vacation, work 6 hour days…well, it’s totally up to you. You negotiate with the customer, sometimes with the help of a seller, who do not have any other mission than finding assignments that fits your will.

    It’s a pretty good proposition. It’s the slack that gives you flow.

    The flip side? Crisp gives you no economic security apart from being part of pretty cool brand and very high profile network, and having some ready made common infrastructure. In short: a runtime environment for self employed consultants.

    • Hi Peter, and thank _you_ for sharing back. Maybe a blog post of your own, how the founders of your company set it up?

      Yeah, well, I agree with codification. I think you’re comparing apples and oranges (and claiming your company has “more”, but I’ll ignore that). Your company is a network of self-employed consultants. Of course you can work as little as you want! Adaptiv is a company with fixed (and equal) salaries. We simply have to find other mechanisms.

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