Taking a different path

Upstream,  Reservoir Development’s Peter Watson explains why he chose to become an agile worker in the later stages of his career. Find out what he’s gained from the move, both personally and professionally. His story may even inspire other to do the same, or, at the very least, provide food for thought

 

Agile working wasn’t something Peter Watson, 58, had really thought about.   But, when he and his line manager discussed the idea 18 months ago, he jumped at the opportunity to enhance his work/life balance. It was a time of major reorganization within the company and offering reduced hours was an ideal way for BP to retain the valuable experience and skills of long-term employees who might be considering taking retirement.

Peter didn’t even have to give up the role he loved as geophysics assurance lead working on BP’s subsurface activities in the reservoir development function. This was an important factor in his decision to become an agile worker, as, after 32 years with BP in various technical and managerial roles that took him from England to Scotland and Trinidad, he admits his current, Sunbury-based, position is one in which he’d happily see out his career.

As his job is not operational ―”I don’t have rigs hanging on my every word,” he says ― Peter was able to concentrate his workload into a four-day week without compromising productivity. Though he admits it does require flexibility on his part when it comes to the occasional business trip encroaching on his usual time off, something he’s been happy to do. So, what has he gained from the change in pace? “I enjoyed my role before,” says Peter, “but agile working has focused it, making it even more fulfilling. By having the freedom to think and do beyond my workscope, I’ve gained more satisfaction in the role.” Quality over quantity means BP is also reaping the benefits.

Peter is making the most of his extra day off, too. He and his wife, who also works part-time, are keen walkers so often spend their long weekends enjoying the countryside. “We walked the North Downs trail last year and embarked on the South Downs earlier this year,” says Peter, who lives in Farnham in Surrey. Having the extra time has also given Peter the opportunity to learn new skills, having recently taken up furniture restoration, and see more of his two children, now in their 20s, who are often to be found back home.
Think about what you are using it for. Is it the first step into retirement or to ease pressures on family life? How will it impact how you do your job?  For example, think about how you see your job working on a four-day week and whether it’s achievable. You also need to consider if you can afford the wage drop. Most importantly, you need to picture yourself six months or a year ahead in the adjusted circumstances and think about whether this works for you

So, would he recommend agile working to others? “Absolutely, I’m sure there are many different circumstances in which it could apply, for example, those moving towards another phase in their life, such as retirement, or for people who need the extra time due to a family situation,” he says. “It’s probably more available than it used to be.”

Asked what his advice would be to those considering the option, Peter says: “Think about what you are using it for. Is it the first step into retirement or to ease pressures on family life? How will it impact how you do your job?  For example, think about how you see your job working on a four-day week and whether it’s achievable. You also need to consider if you can afford the wage drop. Most importantly, you need to picture yourself six months or a year ahead in the adjusted circumstances and think about whether this works for you.”