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SMART Working: Tessa Mondesir

Case Study: Tessa Mondesir, Client Manager - Aberdeen Standard Investments

Why do you work flexibly?

Initially it was to develop and progress my British Sign Language (BSL) skills through regular contact with the Deaf and volunteering in the Deaf community which then allowed me to support Deaf students in education as a Senior Communication Support Worker providing communication access and support using sign language (BSL, SSE) and English.

The majority of students are on mainstream courses studying at a variety of levels from entry to post-graduate.

What does FW look like for you?

Do not work Mondays.

How long within current firm?

22 years.

How long have you been working flexibly?

10 years.

How long have you worked within the industry?

28 years.

How long between application and grant?

Less than 3 months.

Was this your first application?

No. It was my second.

I had always wanted to ‘try’ sign language and managed to join a local evening class, had a great teacher, took to the language straight away and never looked back.

I started to attend Deaf social events to improve and practice signing but to achieve the final two NVQ levels of the language and collect the relevant evidence; I needed to somehow be working in a Deaf environment.

I made an application for flexible working for either compressed hours across 4 days or a conventional 4 day week. The outcome was that I was advised it wouldn’t be possible in a client facing role.

I was naturally disappointed with the decision but I persevered as it was my only option to progress in the language. I had a new manager at the point of my second application and it was this new manager who granted the application. She said to leave it with her as she’d need to think. She came back to me having agreed it in principle with the arrangement to be reviewed after an agreed period.

What are the positive outcomes from your decision to work flexibly?

It allowed me to progress in learning the language that I had grown very quickly to love and had no other means to continue.    Now that I have gained the language skills, the constant interpreting of language is the core of what I do each Monday. Having the ability to ‘sign’ enables me to communicate more effectively with clients and colleagues as working between a visual and spoken language heightens my awareness and recognition of verbal and associated nonverbal communication in the workplace.

The right balance of outside interests contributes to mental wellbeing. For me, assisting the Deaf community in this way provides a different perspective to my life.

I have a real sense of loyalty and appreciation for my employer because they’ve allowed me to pursue my outside interests. I see it as a win win situation where the employee is happy with their life balance and the employer retains a dedicated experienced employee because of it.

Are there any negative outcomes from your decision to work flexibly?

I often work longer hours on a Friday to ensure that my work is at a point that does not need to be covered when I am out on Mondays.

Any other words of advice?

Persevere! Timing and the right manager is everything.

Take responsibility to make sure your arrangement works for you and your employer so that it continues for as long as you need it to, your employer can see they have made the right decision and you pave the way for any others that may need to submit a flexible working case in the future.

Always respect and appreciate what your team may have needed to cover for you for any unexpected issues arising whilst you are out of the office. In those instances they make the arrangement work as much as you do.

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