Molly Johnson-Jones: the future of work is flexibility

Molly shares her struggles with accessing flexibility in the workplace, why there are still barriers to finding flexible companies to work for, how Flexa is solving this problem, plus much more!

Molly Johnson-Jones is the Co-Founder and CEO of Flexa. Flexa certifies and scores companies based on how flexible they are, then showcases why these companies are great to work for to talent all over the world.

In episode 19 of the Founders For Good Podcast, Molly shares her struggles with accessing flexibility in the workplace, why there are still barriers to finding flexible companies to work for, how Flexa is solving this problem, plus much more!  

Keep reading to discover...

💼 What ‘flexible working’ really means  

🚫 The barriers people face when searching for truly flexible work  

🎉 How Flexa is building a global directory of verified flexible companies  

What does ‘flexible working’ really mean?

Molly: That’s a really important question for people to be asking because I think the lack of definition of flexible working has held its growth back quite significantly. If you can’t say exactly what it is, how can companies offer it?  

At Flexa we’ve spent a very long time, two and a half years now, collecting enormous amounts of data to quantify and define what flexible working is. And it’s not one thing, it is a spectrum - in my opinion, and the data also suggests that. Whether you’re a candidate or a company, it’s so varied.  

To give an idea of where that spectrum starts and finishes: the minimum level of flexibility offered for it to be actually flexible is regular working from home at least one or two times a week without having to give a justification. Plus, a small amount of flexibility around hours – potentially half an hour around start and finish times. That is the very base of what we would call flexible working.  

That goes all the way up to the other end of the spectrum where you can work from wherever you want, you could go into the office but there’s no obligation, you could travel the world and work there. There are no rules on location and hours, you can be working synchronously, you choose your own hours – you work how you want.  

This goes along with benefits, which have always kind of been ignored when it comes to defining flexibility. For example, someone’s version of flexibility might be that they really want to be able to bring their dog to the office when they do go in, and that adds flexibility to their lives. Or you could be a parent and want to spend more time with your children, so there would be benefits around that, whether that’s enhanced family leave or annual leave. All of those things we bring into that definition as well.  

What barriers do people face when searching for flexible work?

Molly: There are so many barriers. Let’s start with the companies that don’t offer it at all. We’re seeing more and more companies sending their employees back into the office five days a week.  

When we benchmark and put companies through these processes, 35% fail. That could be because they’re in the office five days a week. It could be that if you want any form of flexibility you have to go through a really long process to access it, which obviously doesn’t really send the signal of flexibility. It sends the message of that being the exception to the rule.  

Or it could be only being able to work from home if you’ve got a delivery or a doctor's appointment, or you’re taking your dog to the vet – those kinds of justifications are real pitfalls for companies at the moment.  

How is Flexa building a global directory of verified flexible companies?

Molly: Flexa is a platform we started in February 2020 and the simplest way of explaining what we do is that we are the global directory for verified flexible workplaces.

So, a bit like when you go on Airbnb and you want a countryside cottage with a hot tub, where you can bring your children; you put those filters on and all those properties will come up. Users will come to Flexa, they’ll put their filters on for their ideal company and all of their perfect matches will come up. So they could do ‘marketing’, ‘dog-friendly’, ‘hybrid’, ‘3-4 days a week from home’, ‘flexible hours’ - companies or jobs will come up which match perfectly.  

From the company side, the best way of explaining it is we sit at the very top of the hiring funnel. Traditionally, hiring has been a reactive process. You have a job. You want people to apply, you’re effectively trying to convert cold leads. If they haven’t heard of you, it can be quite difficult.  

We go one level up to help companies get discovered for their working environment and get seen by hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a bit like top of funnel marketing in the sense of building an engaged pipeline of very diverse people. Flexibility lends itself to inclusivity, which obviously builds diversity. It means the companies eventually find it easier to hire; they get better matches and ultimately it becomes cheaper because more people want to work for you.  

We saw this shift happening as candidates were consuming more and more information about what they wanted in a company, but there was nowhere to go to find that out. And with my own personal experience with flexible working, it was a mission that really resonated with me.  

Want to learn more about Molly’s journey with Flexa? Listen to episode 19 of the Founders For Good Podcast.